Some science behind the scenes

Physical effects of high emotion

 We are apt to believe that high emotion has no effect upon the physical system, but there are a number of scientists who have discovered that high emotion has considerable impact and can lead to ill health.  The discovery of this link was made during the investigation of our 'electric field potentials' so first we need to understand what they discovered here................

Blueprint for immortality – Dr Harold Saxton Burr

Every living system possesses an electrical field of great complexity.  This can be measured with considerable certainty and accuracy and shown to have correlations with growth and development, degeneration and regeneration and the orientation of component parts in the whole system. ….......

Over the last thirty years, almost every form of living organism has been studied, some of them quite cursorily and others in more detail, from bacteria up to and including man.  And so far as our present information goes, there is unequivocal evidence that wherever there is life, there are electrical properties.  But again, it must be stressed that these electrical properties, … are voltage gradients, not current movements, not changes in resistance to the passage of the current......

There is a fairly regular pattern of growth and development up to the eventual death of the living system.  During the first third of the animal's life, voltage gradients increase fairly steadily.  During the middle third, voltage gradients tend to level off and form a  plateau.  The last third of an animal's life shows evidence of regression with a consequent falling off of voltage gradients until death itself.

All of these experiments show a relationship between the growth and development of a living system and its electro-metric correlates.  One of the important consequences of the field theory, is that the electro-metric characteristics of the system in some way control the pattern of organisation or, if you like, the design of the system.

So, although the mechanism by which high emotion works is entirely functional – spiritual in origin – there are physical manifestations too, that we can think of as a form of very high intensity stimulation – a form of high resonance.

The reason for the pattern of potentials is attributable to what are called 'phase boundaries'.  All biological systems are made of cells and nerves that are like small batteries [see nervous system and also the section on channels].  These phase boundaries produce potential differences across the boundaries.  The membrane potential at a phase boundary is a consequence of a difference in concentration of electrolytes on opposite sides of the boundary.  In the non-living system the potential approaches zero as ionic equilibrium is reached.  In the living system, the potentials change over time as the concentrations change and ions move across boundaries through the channels.

Thus underlying all this is a physical system that can be measured – this is not a purely spiritual system, it has physical correlates – more particularly in the current state of the organism.  The living system differs from a purely chemical system where the potential approaches zero over time , the potentials in a living system are maintained and can thus be a pointer to the state of the cells and tissues.

In measuring potentials, the doctors discovered that very high intensity – high potential fields – signalled ill health and occasionally ‘psychoses’.

Blueprint for immortality – Dr Harold Saxton Burr

There was, however, one particular student in the group being studied who consistently showed a higher potential difference than all the rest of the subjects.  On investigation, it was found that this boy had a history of emotional instability …. before the end of the year, the boy became definitely psychotic and had to be remanded to an institution.........

At the conclusion of the experiment, the groups selected by the psychiatrists were compared with the groups selected by the electro-metric investigator, who it must be emphasised knew nothing about the psychiatric diagnosis.  The results of the study showed clearly enough that the group consisting of those markedly deviated from normal behaviour by psychiatric examination also showed a similar deviation in electro-metric examination.  It was not just a so called psychoses that caused high potentials.  Various very high emotions can cause the same effect – grief, anger, emotional pain …......

This led them to start to understand that prolonged high emotion can have its physical effects.

Blueprint for immortality – Dr Harold Saxton Burr

The discovery that the state of the mind can affect the state of the field should induce a new sympathy for the emotionally distressed.  We should no longer be so ready to brush off their miseries with the remark 'it's all in their imagination'.  Perhaps it is.  But if an emotion – even one recalled by hypnosis – is able to affect a voltmeter, it cannot be lightly dismissed as a figment, whatever its origin.  It has a definite reality.  As Dr Ravitz has put it:

'Both emotional activity and stimuli of any sort involve mobilisation of electric energy, as indicated on the galvanometer. Hence, both emotions and stimuli evoke the same energy.  Emotions can be equated with energy'.

So as an accidental inducer of spiritual experience high emotion works and we can see why, but in terms of choice – one should never willingly go down this route as a voluntary mechanism as the overall long term effects are ill health.

Negative emotions can still produce a spiritual experience, but it is not a good idea to use emotional overload as the mechanism by which one obtains spiritual experience for any activity which provokes a negative reaction.

People who are suffering from emotional pain have no choice – these are not deliberate attempts to intensify an emotion, they are emotions that prove to be uncontrollable because the pain of the circumstance that engendered them is so great.  But very high negative emotions, so emotional reaction of extremely high intensity, eventually – often sooner rather than later – makes us ill.  Thus the functional emerges and manifests as physical illness.

This phenomenon seems one that is poorly understood and often little accepted within western medical circles, but in very many indigenous cultures and in the population at large of even western societies, the correlation is well understood – it is perfectly possible to die of a broken heart, for example.  The person who dies from cancer of the prostrate, may well have been left by his partner for another more sexually active person.  Illness has a habit of manifesting where we are most affected emotionally – where it has hit us hardest.

Take away a person’s means of financial or moral support and they have to figuratively ‘stand on their own two feet’ which can manifest as knee and leg problems.  When a person has to look after an elderly relative meaning they ‘shoulder an extra burden’, it can manifest as shoulder problems.  Silly though it may sound, it appears to be true.  People’s gut reaction to fear often manifests as diarrhoea!  Louise Hay’s best-selling book You Can Heal Your Life is based on just this premise.

Ethnomedicine and ethnobotany of fright, a Caribbean culture-bound psychiatric syndrome - Quinlan MB;  Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99163, USA.

"Fright" is an English-speaking Caribbean idiom for an illness, or ethnomedical syndrome, of persistent distress. A parallel ethnopsychiatric idiom exists in the French Antilles as sésisma. Fright is distinct from susto among Hispanics, though both develop in the wake of traumatic events.

West Indian ethnophysiology (ethnoanatomy) theorizes that an overload of stressful emotions (fear, panic, anguish or worry) causes a ‘cold humoral state’ in which blood coagulates causing prolonged distress and increased risks of other humorally cold illnesses.

PMID: 20163730

In general much of the research in the west from the scientific community seems to have been focussed on the links between mental diseases and high emotion rather than ‘physical’ diseases.  This former link is proven……………

Stress factors in affective diseases - Bidzińska EJ.

An investigation carried out on 97 patients with affective disorders and on 100 healthy control subjects, revealed that acute and chronic stress factors occurred more in the group of patients with affective disorders than among healthy control over a similar time period.

The frequency of stressful life situations was the same before the first affective episode in patients with unipolar and bipolar illness.

The possible participation of such factors in triggering the first phase of illness is discussed. Similar factors appeared in both types of affective disorders. Significantly more frequent among patients than in the control group were: marital and family conflicts, health problems, emotional and ambitional failures, lack of success and work overload.

PMID: 6704602

Having said this, there are a small number of studies that have also shown the link between the mental and the physical …………

Trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder, and physical illness: findings from the general population - Spitzer C, Barnow S, Völzke H, John U, Freyberger HJ, Grabe HJ; Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.

To determine in a general population sample the differential impact on physical health of exposure to traumatic experiences and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Trauma exposure and PTSD have been associated with physical illness in specific populations, such as veterans.

Medical histories including cardiovascular, endocrine, pulmonary, and other chronic diseases were obtained from 3171 adults living in the community. They were administered the PTSD module of the Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV), and were assigned to three groups: no trauma (n = 1440); trauma, but no PTSD (n = 1669); and trauma with subsequent PTSD (n = 62).

After adjustments for sociodemographic factors, smoking, body mass index, blood pressure, depression, and alcohol use disorders, subjects with trauma history had higher odds ratios (ORs) for angina pectoris and heart failure (OR = 1.2; 95% Confidence Interval [CI] = 1.1-1.3), stroke (OR = 1.2; 95 CI = 1.0-1.5), bronchitis, asthma, renal disease, and polyarthritis (ORs between 1.1 and 1.3) compared with nontraumatized participants. The PTSD positive subsample had increased ORs for angina (OR = 2.4; 95% CI = 1.3-4.5), heart failure (OR = 3.4; 95% CI = 1.9-6.0), bronchitis, asthma, liver, and peripheral arterial disease (ORs, range = 2.5-3.1).

Our findings suggest a strong association between PTSD and cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. Particular diagnostic and treatment attention should be paid to physical illness in PTSD positive patients in primary care, medical, and mental health settings.


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