home
RSS
How hope works with modern medicine
March 16th, 2011
05:51 PM ET

How hope works with modern medicine

Dr. Charles Raison, CNNHealth's Mental Health expert and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, writes regularly on the mind-body connection for better health.

My mom, whom I’ve mentioned before, is 82 and struggles to walk. But she goes to great lengths each week to attend a church in which she finds comfort, one that teaches that reality can be changed to reflect our desires if our hopeful expectations are strong enough. This idea has been popularized in a widely read book called “The Secret,”which espouses a “law of attraction” such that the universe must respond to the way you think. Thus, positive and negative thinking must always bring about positive and negative physical results in the real world.

My professional life is rooted in scientific endeavors, so you won’t be surprised to learn that I think that idea is wrong. What amazes me, though, is that it is so nearly right. Although the universe does not appear to be obligated to deliver 100% of our fondest hopes and dreams, it turns out that thinking positively really can lead to positive medical outcomes.

The latest example of this effect comes from a recently published study that examines whether one’s expectations of future health status actually affects future health. Researchers at Duke University asked several thousand patients undergoing a cardiac diagnostic procedure what they thought about their likely future health and then followed these patients for 15 years to see what happened to them. A great strength of this study is that in addition to asking about specific health expectations, the researchers collected information on almost every imaginable factor that might also influence cardiovascular health so that the specific effect of these expectations could be isolated and explored.

The researchers found that the most optimistic patients were only about half as likely to die from heart disease as the most pessimistic patients. Of course, it’s easier to be optimistic about your future if your disease is not as bad, if you are not as depressed, etc. Taking these factors into account weakened the association between positive expectations and enhanced survival, but the effect remained large — as large, in fact, as the effect of our most powerful medications.

The practical implications of these findings—along with many similar results from earlier studies—are staggering. Given this, I never cease being amazed that modern medicine seems generally so little interested in exploring ways to maximally harness such a readily available source of therapeutic success. But for us as individuals the message is clear. When disease strikes we should work on ways to develop and nurture a sense of hope for the future. And not just general hope, but hope that is specific to the illness at hand. And in fact, if our hope reaches beyond what the evidence suggests is going to happen to us, so much the better. We should look upon this as a therapeutic strategy, and if we find it difficult we should remind ourselves that other therapeutic modalities—such as surgery or chemotherapy—are at least, if not more difficult.

Said another way, scientific data suggest that realistically developing unrealistic hope is good for our health. Of course, this is a tremendous challenge, because hope is much easier to come by when it appears to be realistic to a person. To knowingly practice unrealistic hope requires significant discipline, willpower and courage.

Notice that I qualified my statements about unrealistic hope with the caveat that we need to develop this hope realistically. This is where I part ways with spiritual views that insist hope is all powerful. Just because something works to some degree doesn’t mean it works completely, and many effective medicines become poisonous if taken at too high a dose.

Almost certainly there is such a thing as too much hope, if that hope causes people to forgo availing themselves of every medical intervention at their disposal. Hope works within the confines of modern medicine; by itself it is a good deal less effective. To see proof of this one need look no further than studies showing that Christian Scientists—who eschew all medical treatment in favor of spiritual healing—die at a much younger age than other Americans.

Still, I don’t want to end a post on hope with such gloom and doom. Perhaps a more appropriate way to close is to rephrase an old Arabic proverb that “He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything.” True enough, but it is also true that “He who has hope has health, or at least a better shot at it”.


soundoff (658 Responses)
  1. Social Media Marketing Market

    http://webstolica.ru/go.php?link=https://postfallsfitness.com/

    May 19, 2021 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. rv park orange county ca

    https://dev-skanvor.1gb.ru/redir.php?url=https://blog-bazil.grenierajouets.fr/index.php?post/Une-idee-marrante-de-recyclage

    May 19, 2021 at 17:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV Inspection Near Me

    I'd like to thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this site. I really hope to see the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own, personal blog now 😉

    http://forums.womenshealthmatters.ca/gynegals/index.php?app=analytics&module=analytics&controller=link&topic=115902&url=http://bindannmalveg.de/en/vegan-voices-norway-emma/

    May 19, 2021 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. good sam rv warranty reviews

    https://rsv.nta.co.jp/affiliate/set/af100101.aspx?site_id=66108024&redi_url=http://thealterlabs.com/christy-roman-explores-paper-through-materials-and-weights/

    May 19, 2021 at 22:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Lighting California

    I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!

    http://religion.faststart.ru/go.php?url=http://dur-gol.com/2020-01-28-061500/

    May 20, 2021 at 00:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Social Media Marketing Business

    Aw, this was an exceptionally good post. Spending some time and actual effort to make a really good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.

    http://tamiroom.com/bbs/cafe.php?mode=node&id=936&page=1&home=http://postfallslocal.com/

    May 20, 2021 at 05:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Internet Marketing Firms

    http://www.prmac.com/external_link.php?release=34382&l=1&url=http://www.internetmarketingidaho.com

    May 20, 2021 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Video Marketing Near Me

    https://onionring.jp/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=281&url=https://wholesalenearme.com/

    May 20, 2021 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Content Marketing Boutique

    I want to to thank you for this excellent read!! I certainly enjoyed every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked to check out new things you post…

    http://www.sns.lilyenglish.com/link.php?url=http://www.reviewnearme.com/

    May 20, 2021 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. paint shops near me

    Great post! We are linking to this great content on our website. Keep up the great writing.

    http://www.london.umb.edu/?URL=https://ocrvmotorsports.com/rv-bed-repair-near-me

    May 20, 2021 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RV Roof Orange County

    https://www.payrollservers.us/sc/cookie.asp?sitealias=25925711&redirect=http://ocrvmotorcoaches.com/rv-repair-shop-redondo-beach-california

    May 20, 2021 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. ocrv storage

    https://www.domainsherpa.com/share.php?site=https://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-imperial-beach-california

    May 20, 2021 at 23:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RV Furniture Los Angeles

    https://www.newsletter.viamedica.pl/lt.php?c=1282&m=2481&nl=6&lid=20647&l=https://ocrv.today/rv-repair-shop-wildomar-california

    May 20, 2021 at 23:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. rv glass repair near me

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely feel this site needs far more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the information!

    http://www.cs.ucy.ac.cy/~george/lm/lm.php?tk=c2NlLmNhcmxldG9uLmNhICwJCQlmZy1hcmNAbGlzdHMudW5pLXBhZGVyYm9ybi5kZQkyMm5kIEFDTSBJbnRlcm5hdGlvbmFsIENvbmZlcmVuY2Ugb24gSW50ZWxsaWdlbnQgVXNlciBJbnRlcmZhY2VzIChJVUkgMjAxNyk6IENhbGwgZm9yIFBhcnRpY2lwYXRpb24JMTEJTGlzdHMJMTk0CWNsaWNrCXllcwlubw==&url=http://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-imperial-beach-california

    May 20, 2021 at 23:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Freightliner Sprinter Repair Near Me

    https://www.bad.org.uk/for-the-public/patient-information-leaflets/androgenetic-alopecia/?showmore=1&returnlink=https://fleetservicesorangecounty.com/van-conversion-shop-near-me

    May 21, 2021 at 02:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Fabrication Riverside

    I was pretty pleased to find this page. I want to to thank you for ones time for this fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it and i also have you book-marked to check out new stuff in your blog.

    https://www.rya.org.uk/pages/redir.axd?url=http://ocrv.art/rv-repair-shop-costa-mesa-california

    May 21, 2021 at 03:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. tv repair in temecula

    http://historisches-festmahl.de/go.php?url=https://ocrvcenter.com/haul-truck-collision-repair-shop-near-me/

    May 21, 2021 at 03:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV Mechanics Riverside

    http://t.raptorsmartadvisor.com/.lty?url=http://ocrvcenter.info/rv-repair-shop-el-monte-california

    May 21, 2021 at 05:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. best rv repair near me

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up and the rest of the website is also very good.

    http://serbiancafe.com/lat/diskusije/new/redirect.php?url=ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-studio-city-california

    May 21, 2021 at 05:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Mercedes Sprinter Authorized Repair Center

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I'm going to revisit yet again since I book-marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.

    https://cdn.embedded.com/common/jumplink.php?target=https://www.sprintervanrepairshop.com/box-truck-body-shop-near-me

    May 21, 2021 at 07:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. solar paint and body

    This site definitely has all the information and facts I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

    http://tracing.uniview.com/tracking/?u=guilhen@ecare-security.com&msg=2E812EB8.E26C.4678.8716.95660E17C842.0007.001e38656675d537.3nn6otyh@uniview.com&url=http://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-kagel-canyon-california

    May 21, 2021 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RV Sound System Los Angeles

    https://www.responsivedesignchecker.com/checker.php?url=ocrvcenter.net/rv-repair-shop-la-habra-california

    May 21, 2021 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. rv fiberglass repair panels

    This is a topic that is near to my heart... Take care! Exactly where are your contact details though?

    http://www.capnordic.dk/redirect.asp?url=https://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-lomita-california/

    May 21, 2021 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. rv alignment shops near me

    http://local.kxlf.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-lomita-california

    May 21, 2021 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Internet Marketing Consultants

    Spot on with this write-up, I seriously believe this web site needs much more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the advice!

    http://www.thejournal.ie/utils/login/facebook/?url=https://affordableranking.com

    May 21, 2021 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Digital Marketing Business

    This is a topic which is near to my heart... Thank you! Exactly where are your contact details though?

    http://www.mykitchen.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=http://www.affordableranking.com

    May 21, 2021 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV Tires Riverside

    https://sh.shulcloud.com/track.php?id=4c5c111e733449a9a439790f0d4b1431&url=https://ocrv.pro/rv-repair-shop-san-marino-california

    May 22, 2021 at 00:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. 부산홈타이

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It's the little
    changes that will make the most significant changes. Thanks for sharing!

    May 22, 2021 at 05:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Generator Los Angeles

    Hello there! I simply wish to give you a big thumbs up for the great info you've got right here on this post. I'll be returning to your web site for more soon.

    /

    May 22, 2021 at 05:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. sound system repair near me

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this post! It's the little changes that will make the most significant changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    https://trends.gab.com/visit?url=https://ocrvcenter.com/rv-restoration-near-me

    May 22, 2021 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. combigan

    combigan generic prices brimonidine eye drops

    May 22, 2021 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. nearest trailer repair shop

    http://www.ibar.cc/link.php?url=https://www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-chatsworth-california

    May 22, 2021 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. collision repair shops near me

    http://www.tces.hlc.edu.tw/dyna/netlink/hits.php?id=140&url=https://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-manhattan-beach-california/

    May 23, 2021 at 06:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Tembepteriope

    cheap cialis pills for sale tadalafil without a doctor prescription tadalafil blood pressure cost tadalafil generic https://apcalisetadalafil.com/

    May 23, 2021 at 17:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Tritreviewifind

    tadalafil blood pressure https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ – cheap generic cialis for sale lowest price cialis prescription tadalafil online tadalafil brands

    May 23, 2021 at 18:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. tausAffessy

    side effects for tadalafil tadalafil order online no prescription cialis without a prescription lowest price cialis https://tadagatadalafil.com/ – tadalafil price walmart

    May 23, 2021 at 19:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Social Media Marketing Services Near Me

    http://www.uzrf.ru/redirect.php?url=http://affordableranking.com/

    May 23, 2021 at 20:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RV Plumbing Riverside

    I truly love your website.. Great colors & theme. Did you create this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my very own site and want to know where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Appreciate it!

    https://analytics.bluekai.com/site/16231?phint=event=click&phint=campaign=BRAND-TAB&phint=platform=search&done=http://ocrvcenter.info/rv-repair-shop-chino-california

    May 23, 2021 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. rv sales orange county ca

    http://wad.ojooo.com/cks_preview.php?lang=en&url=http://ocrvcenter.com/shuttle-truck-collision-repair-shop-near-me/

    May 24, 2021 at 06:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. rv dealers in orange county ca

    Excellent post. I am dealing with many of these issues as well..

    http://paper.li/SharonLaMothe/1411841847?read=https://www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-maywood-california/

    May 24, 2021 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. tausAffessy

    https://cttadalafil.com/ tadalafil price walmart cialis at canadian pharmacy tadalafil liquid cost of cialis

    May 24, 2021 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. tv repair orange county

    https://blogranking.fc2.com/out.php?id=1032500&url=https://paulinemilican-kine.be/bonjour-tout-le-monde/

    May 24, 2021 at 20:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Sound System California

    I blog frequently and I genuinely thank you for your information. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I'm going to take a note of your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week. I opted in for your Feed too.

    /

    May 24, 2021 at 20:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. camera repair orange county

    /

    May 24, 2021 at 21:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Unitmerienepeft

    https://cttadalafil.com/ side effects of tadalafil side effects for tadalafil generic cialis online fast shipping cialis without a prescription

    May 24, 2021 at 22:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Digital Marketing Agencies Near Me

    http://www.syuriya.com/ys4/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=415&url=http://www.rankemailads.com

    May 25, 2021 at 00:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Internet Marketing Specialist

    I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Perfectly written!

    http://ru-hotels.com/red.php?p=http://affordableranking.com

    May 25, 2021 at 01:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Tritreviewifind

    generic cialis online fast shipping https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ – tadalafil brands cheap cialis pills for sale where to buy tadalafil on line https://tadalafilol.com/

    May 25, 2021 at 02:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Forklift For Sale Near Me

    Right here is the perfect webpage for everyone who wants to find out about this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually would want to…HaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a topic that has been written about for years. Great stuff, just excellent!

    https://www.saisoncard.co.jp/cgi-bin/count.cgi?pal=632,632&url=https://forkliftswildwestlifttrucks.com/boom-forklift-repair-orange-county-california/

    May 25, 2021 at 05:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Forklift Dealer Near Me

    https://www.grantrequest.com/SID_1268/default4.asp?SA=EXIT&url=https://forkliftswildwestlifttrucks.com/los-alamitos-forklifts/

    May 25, 2021 at 05:28 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.