Emotions, beliefs and physical repercussions

Emotions, beliefs and physical repercussions

Blinded by our ready-made answers, we are then unable to ask ourselves new questions and, without realizing it, we live in the light of very obscure dogmas. Let us think that in the 17th century philosophers like John Locke affirmed: “the negation of nature is the way to happiness”.

Curious century of the Enlightenment where man took on the mission of influencing, controlling and dominating nature considered as an enemy. A formidable belief which, three hundred years later, still encourages us to deny this nature of which we are made and of which we are a part. Yet it is thanks to this posture “outside the world” that Western science has known its greatest developments.

Reducing reality to its tiniest constituents has allowed the description of many living mechanisms. Unfortunately, by dint of analyzing the details, scientific reductionism is deprived of the global vision necessary to piece together the whole puzzle. “Life does not reside in the molecules but in the relationships that are established between them,” noted Linus Pauling, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and Peace. The fabric of life is made of links. It is precisely these links that the science of the 21st century will have to study if it wants to remain at the service of life.

The indivisible individual

Far from the Cartesian concepts that led to the separation of body and mind, our daily experience offers us proof of the constant relationship that is established between our thoughts, our beliefs, the emotions aroused by them and the reactions of our body. To be convinced of this, just imagine that when you read these lines, you learn that you have won a large sum of money. In the moment, you will feel an immense energy growing within you, life will seem wonderful to you, you will construct a whole series of projects, you will be joyful, you will want to move, run or dance.

Others will perceive you as “bright” and “in great shape”. Imagine, on the contrary, that you learn of the death of your best friend. Immediately, you will have the impression of emptying yourself of all your strength, existence will seem absurd to you, you will feel confronted with a dark wall, you will be invaded by an immense sadness, you will be prostrate, weakened. Others will find you “gray and dull” and the next day, perhaps, you will be bedridden with a high fever.

At the University of Wisconsin Neuroscience Laboratory, Richard Davidson and his team have shown that the simple act of viewing images triggering negative emotions such as fear, anxiety or anger causes stimulation of the anterior part of the right brain. , the right prefrontal cortex. Automatically, the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated. This prepares our “stress response”. This results in an increase in the production of adrenaline and cortisol by the adrenal glands.

The body mobilizes its energy, its muscular forces and its immune defenses to react by fleeing or fighting. The demonstration is made: a negative thought generates a negative emotion which activates the stress nervous system and puts the body on alert. There is therefore a real continuity between our psychic and physical states.

Similarly, when the images projected by Davidson’s team evoke positive emotions such as joy or enthusiasm, it is the left prefrontal cortex that preferentially activates, leading to stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system. This results in a relaxation of bodily tensions, the initiation of the body’s repair and recovery mechanisms, and the stimulation of the immune defences, in particular the NK (natural killer) cells, a kind of gendarmes that circulate in the body is constantly looking for “abnormal”, infected or cancerous cells.

The dangers of stress

One fact seems obvious: the tensioning of the body generated by negative thoughts and emotions is an asset for our survival. Provided however that this tension does not last too long because, in the long run, too high levels of adrenaline damage the heart and blood vessels, and an increase in the production of cortisol ends up causing a dysregulation of the immune system which can lead to the runaway inflammatory reactions at the origin of certain autoimmune diseases.

Not to mention that the mobilization of energy with a view to flight or combat prevents a whole series of normal functioning of the body and, in the long term, weakens the organism, making it more susceptible to disease.

Thus it is estimated that chronic stress is involved in the appearance of 75 to 90% of all pathologies. Pathologies that we realize today are mostly the result of an imbalance in the body caused by a set of factors: hereditary predispositions, poor diet, environmental toxins, various traumas and certain tensions emotional. What is accepted for a disease like gastric ulcer (caused by the presence of a bacterium and an unfavorable ground due to stress and bad eating habits in relation to psychic tensions) is beginning to be considered for many others. troubles.

Thus rheumatic diseases, cardiovascular pathologies, vulnerability to infections (several studies show that being stressed predisposes you to “catch” a cold or flu more easily), and even cancer. Indeed, although we do not yet have formal proof of a cause and effect relationship between psychic tensions and cancer, certain studies draw our attention and call for caution. Thus, results published in 2004 in the prestigious American journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicate that chronic stress causes a shortening of telomeres – a kind of cap protecting the end of chromosomes – and, consequently, leads to premature aging. cells.

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