Saturday, March 17, 2018

Mind over Body

The phrase "mind over body" generally has positive implications.  Individuals hampered by physical disability, injury or disease overcome those conditions to survive and thrive, inspiring those of us who do not face such challenges.

But the phrase might also be used when talented teams or individuals fail to meet expectations; the recent Winter Olympics and the current NCAA Basketball Tournament offer examples.  The stress induced by the pressure to succeed (often triggered by public expectations) impairs physical performance.

Contrary to the belief that the mind and body are separate, a concept most often instilled by religious mysticism, they are intimately connected and the health of one is dependent on the health of the other.  Disorders such as brain injury, dementia and psychological stress alter the function of other organs and tissues and physical disease can have dramatic effects on brain function.  Our thoughts and our emotions, like our muscular activity, are products of complex, interconnected biochemical processes.  See also Advantage: Underdogs