Emotions and Illness By Kelsey Lemmon

Health psychology is the study of how our mental health and attitudes can affect our health. Specifically it links how positive emotions help our health, while negative ones tend to be detrimental for our health. Our positive or negative outlook on life can help or hinder our physical states. Specifically, the book discusses how positive outlooks can help someone who is suffering from an illness or disease.

My Grandpa had Parkinson’s disease. There is no cure for it, and one of the major effects is that it impairs a person’s mobility, and their control over their nervous system and muscles. My grandpa was a very active man, and as such this disease was very hard for him to deal with emotionally and psychologically. When it first started to get really bad, he became very bitter and depressed. I remember him struggling with the simplest of tasks, and his frustration kept growing. His condition worsened rapidly. However, after about ten years of him being angry over his condition, he changed his attitude. He decided to be optimistic and happy, despite the pain and his inablility to do what he wanted. His disease did not go away, but the change was amazing. He was able to do minimal tasks again. He was able to actually hold his cards when playing games, he could move himself from one room to another, and was able to walk farther distances. His new attitude led him to do some things that were out of his capability, and that caused some setbacks. But the disease progressed a lot slower, and I think he lived longer because of it.

I think it was his attitude, and his optimism that allowed him to live out the remainder of his life with some degree of mobility. The change that his attitude brought was truly remarkable. His inability to perform tasks caused mental stress that affected the rest of his body. Research has shown that stress can affect all parts of our body, and can make one more susceptible to disease and illness. However, once he was able to get a handle on that mental stress, his body also was relieved of a lot of that stress. He was able to function better. I think having that sense of freedom and independence, as small as it was, allowed him to think of his situation more positively. This positive outlook kept him going, and I think it helped him stay healthier for longer.

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  1. #1 by blarimer on June 5, 2012 - 5:59 PM

    Wow, that’s amazing! My grandpa who suffered from Alzheimer’s only deteriorated, as he had already lost his wife and didn’t have much of a desire to get better. Your story stands in striking contrast to that. It makes me wonder how things might have been if only he had had more motivation to function and live life. My grandpa on the other side also showed this effect, as he died only five days after his wife passed away! Before that, I’m pretty sure he was doing relatively okay, but after his wife’s death he deteriorated rapidly. The mind and will seem to be pretty powerful forces when it comes to health.

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