Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ursula in Coyote Healing and how do people become sick?

Ursula raises the larger question of how does physical illness come about. I think illness emerges as either a consequence or an epiphenomenon of the embodied enactment of stories. All thoughts have physiological consequences just as I mentioned for imagination. Medical students who watch horror movies show decreases in immune function just as medical students who wtach comedies show increases in immune function. We can't explain the mechanism by which that happens, but we know that it does. So, your emotional experience, which is a direct result of your perception of the world, which arises from the stories you hold about the world and enact in the world, affects your physiology. The story of guilt and self-blame and self-loathing is probably a bummer for the average white blood cell who's more interesting in responding vigorously to happiness and joy. Our emotions, however, arise from our position in a social world and the stories in which we grow up. It's the flip side of the competition story. For every winnter, there are 100 (or more) losers. What's it like to be the winner or the loser? I think Taleb (in the Black Swan) and Gladwell (in Outliers) both make the excellent point that after you put in your 10,000 hours to become an expert (Doidge uses that number also), it's largely luck and social capital, not talent or genius. Yet, the more we believe the individual genius story, and the more we're not the big winner, the more we beat ourselves up. The more we beat ourselves up, the more beaten down we feel. Up, down. Up , down. It weighs heavy on a body, and is probably in service to capitalism because the more down we feel, the more stuff we buy and services we consume.