Healing Brain Seminar: July 1985
THE HEALING BRAIN
Saturday, July 13, 1985
University of California,
The Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge
“The most important health care system is the brain itself.”
Questions concerning the relationship of mind to matter deserve careful attention when personal health is at stake. Can the brain actually heal the body? What about the sense of physical well-being we feel in conditions of social harmony and cooperation? The physical distress we feel in situations of social conflict and disunity – how do these effects contribute to health and disease?
Recent advances in brain research and the behavioral sciences have revealed that interpersonal interactions can influence physiological responses and modify disease susceptibility. We are also learning more about how sensitive the brain is to environmental changes, how stress alters our immune system, and how to mobilize the brain’s intrinsic healing potential.
These and other findings of major clinical importance will be explored at a one-day symposium. A distinguished faculty of researchers and clinicians will provide through lectures, panel discussions, and questions and answers an up-to-date review of emerging trends in behavioral medicine.
• The brain as a health maintenance organization
• Psychoneuroimmunology: the brain’s influence on immunity
• Who stays healthy under stress
• The placebo effect: using the body’s own healing mechanisms.
• Endorphins, pains, and placebos
• Left brain, right brain: health and consciousness
THE AMAZING BRAIN
ROBERT E. ORNSTEIN, Ph.D.
The principal role of the brain is to maintain the health of the body in the face of a changing environment. The brain has been found to be far more flexible and adaptable than previously thought. It can grow in response to experience, it can change its chemistry and even its structure in response to the environment. The “keys” to brain function lie in the varied neurotransmitters and the division of the brain into the left and right hemispheres, each specialized for different modes of consciousness. How these keys can unlock different dimensions of our experience will be explored.
PSYCHONEUROIMMUNOLOGY: The Brain’s Influence on Immunity
JON D. LEVINE, M.D., Ph.D.
Our immune system plays a critical role in defending the body against disease. However, in certain auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis the body attacks itself. Psychological distress may influence the immune system and thereby effect the onset of certain autoimmune and infectious diseases. Researchers are beginning to discover some of the links between the brain and the immune system.
WHO STAYS HEALTHY UNDER STRESS?
DAVID S. SOBEL, M.D.
Not everyone exposed to stress becomes ill. What are the characteristics which distinguish those who remain healthy in the face of stress? The role of personality, coping strategies, and social support in the maintenance of health and resistance to disease will be explored.
THE PLACEBO EFFECT: Using the Body’s Own Healing Mechanisms
DAVID S. SOBEL, M.D.
The placebo effect is a vivid example of the organism’s intrinsic healing capacities. The nonspecific and symbolic effects of therapeutic interventions may at times be more powerful than specific pharmacological and physiological aspects of therapy. Ways in which these positive expectancy effects can be mobilized without deception will also be explored.
THE INTERNAL PHARMACY: ENDORPHINS AND PAIN CONTROL
JOHN D. LEVINE, M.D., Ph.D.
Recent research reveals that the body contains several intrinsic systems of control of pain. One of these systems involves endorphins, opiate-like chemicals produced by the body itself to regulate pain. These endogenous chemicals appear to be involved in placebo analgesia. Working in concert with the body’s own analgesia systems may yield more effective approaches to pain control.
EMOTIONS, THE DIVIDED BRAIN AND HEALTH
ROBERT E. ORNSTEIN, Ph.D.
Emotions were here before we were. These important patterns of innate responses enable us to deal with challenges, but also have a profound effect on health. Recent studies reveal that different emotions have specific patterns of activation, different effects on immunity and health, and different associations with each hemisphere of our divided brain.
JON D. LEVINE, M.D., PH.D., is Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. He is a neurophysiologist and rheumatologist with research interests in mechanisms of pain control and the role of the nervous system in rheumatoid arthritis.
ROBERT E. ORNSTEIN, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Human Biology at Stanford University and President of The Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge. His research interests include the function of the two hemispheres of the brain, perception and communication in the human sciences. He is author of The Psychology of Consciousness, and The Mind Field and co-author of On the Psychology of Meditation.
DAVID SOBEL, M.D., M. P. H., is Regional Director of Patient Education and Health Promotion at Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Northern California, and Medical Program Director of The Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge. His current areas of interest include behavioral medicine, health promotion and public health education. He is editor of Ways of Health: Holistic Approaches to Ancient and Contemporary Medicine.