Saturday, June 12, 2010

Physical vs. mental (again)

A sketch of the human brain imposed upon the p...Image via Wikipedia

It is my impression that many people over-state our mental power over physical condition, as if we human being really are only made spiritually. I might have agreed with this prior to my Chronic fatigue experience, but now I totally disagree with such subjective view.

Below is what one of my online friends said and it exactly matches what I have been thinking:
A physically healthy person can be either mentally healthy or unhealthy, but it's almost impossible for a physical unhealthy* person to be mentally healthy.

If we agree that physical part is the foundation of our whole existence, we would consequentially agree with this statement, and admit that physical part has more power to our mental part than the other way around.

I also have an impression that those whoever are physically healthy tend to believe that our physical unwellness are often caused by our mental problems, and whoever are physically unhealthy would easily accept the fact that mental unwellness in many cases are caused by our physical problems. I believe both views come from people's experiences so both are telling parts of truth. But to me it seems to be a problem here that most medical professionals can easily or willingly consider the first one as fact and role out, or at least do not pay enough attentions to the second one, especially when they face some unknown diseases.

Not only medical professionals, the theory of over stated mental power toward physical condition seems to be accepted universally as a "scientific truth" through some misleading medical and premature psychological studies. That's why CFS patients' suffering have been ignored not only by medical institutions but also ordinary people. CFS sufferers are not treated as physical patients but mentally frustrated/unhealthy people.

Forgive me for getting a little personal here again. I am very very tired and sick of this fact: whenever I mentioned I was physically not well (trust me, I prefer not to mention at all), people would look at me (just by look) and said: "You look fine. Don't just think you are ill." I promise, next time if someone say things like this again, I am ready to launch a tirade!

No doubt people can get so superstitious!

* "Physical unhealthy" here means those conditions that cause patients suffering. It does not include physical disability.


  1. You have posed and excellent question and assertion. I agree to your basic assertion. At the same time I have to mention there are exceptions. I would propose that Stephen Hawking does have neuro-muscular dystrophy which also physically disables him. I knew a high school football coach leading his team to state championships while suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease that had him on oxygen and wheel chair.

    At the same time I have to acknowledge 99% of time if you are not physically healthy it will affect a person mental capabilities.

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  3. Thanks Frank! You are right, anything has exceptions. Someone who has better intelligence or other mental capabilities would certainly have better resistance righting with physical unwellness. But overall, this is still valid in terms of generality as you already knew.
    Also thanks for bijay's comments!

  4. The power of the mind over the body is extremely limited and not at all what spiritualists and mentalists make it out to be. Some physical symptoms are certainly brought on by worry and stress, but the vast number of diseases are physiological in nature. I actually believe the body has more influence over the mind than vice versa, and that physical activity does more to create happiness and well-being than any form of so-called positive thinking.

  5. very well said NP! I personally experienced view point changes (from negative to positive) all the time during my CFS experience. sometime I even believe, all these attitudes are all decided by our physical conditions - some of them we understand already but some we don't yet.

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