Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Being Silly as Part of Health

Originally posted on August 8, 2015

“And when was the last time you were silly?” This might well be on the standard list of questions asked by one’s doctor. “If it’s been over a week, it’s not okay.” Wow! I mean, what if this is right? What if this becomes part of the medical “review of systems” that every doctor must attend to?

Perhaps I’m being silly, but becoming light-hearted may well be an element in good health. Dr. Gabor Mate’ reminded me recently of something that was a part of medicine in the years when psychoanalysis was at its peak—the effects of attitude and state of mind on health: “Psychosomatic Medicine.” It’s not conscious, and you have to take some time to get to that layer. Brief therapy doesn’t do it.

Psychosomatic medicine has almost dropped from view, but perhaps it should not. It’s elusive, hard to pin down facts, difficult to measure in tests and correlations. This should not eliminate what we know intuitively to be so: Stress and personality make a difference in health. Duh: It’s sort of obvious if you aren’t too wedded to being mechanistic-minded. Trying to pin everything down in indisputable terms may be cutting off lots of stuff which can not be indisputable, but still is vaguely obvious.

Back to silly, fun, joyous, joking, twinkling of eye, yummy and other elusive emotions: Difficult to specify scientifically, these, but everyone knows. Trying to be skeptical about everything in the quest for hard scientific proof can be taken too far. Of course, everyone knew that the sun went around the earth, so a measure of scientific skepticism serves an expansion of wisdom, but hey.

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