The photovoltaic cell is a solar technology that converts sunlight directly into electrical current.
Your nervous system “on the prowl”
Your nervous system is designed to process all external stimuli and direct the musculoskeletal and various organ systems to respond in specific ways to maximize your ability to survive and thrive. While this sequence is also a direct conversion of energy into a physical response, the obvious difference is the complexity. Sunlight to electricity is a passive, fixed process depending just on the amount of sunlight stimulating one fixed reaction, whereas the brain is conducting an orchestra of trillions of cells.
Your body in balance
All organ systems are in delicate balance. There is always a feedback loop that inhibits or shuts down a process when the job is done. For example, when you reach your arm out there are almost as many nerves stimulating the opposing muscle groups as there are driving the movement. When this balance is disrupted, such as in head trauma, spasticity is the result. All hormone systems have chemicals that provide feedback to the glands that halt secretion when the desired level is reached. It takes little to disrupt this delicate balance. The pain system is indescribably complicated regarding the feedback loops in the spinal cord and brain in addition to the multiple varieties of pain receptors.
Your body out of balance
Acute disruption of this balance is clear, for example, if you were driving down a mountain road and an oncoming car narrowly missed hitting you head-on while passing. What would happen to your heart rate, stomach, skin, and muscles? But you were not hit or injured. Why did that intense response occur? It was the thought of being in a major accident that caused the bodily reaction. What about waking up from a nightmare with your heart wildly racing? Really, nothing physically happened to you.
Thoughts = sunlight
Your body gathers data from your surroundings in the forms of vision, sound, touch, pain, smell, taste, etc. and converts that data into action. We are programmed to move towards pleasant sensations and avoid unpleasant ones. Thoughts create a similar reaction and can be compared to the sunlight hitting a photovoltaic cell. The more sunlight – the more electrical current. The more intense and frequent your thoughts – the more intense your body’s response.
What is neutral?
Even in a seeming “neutral” state you brain and body are engaged in an endless dance to maintain balance in all of your systems.
What about chronic stress with its attendant racing, catastrophizing thoughts? Whether your thoughts arise from real or “perceived” stress your body will respond in exactly the same way. That means your “neutral” state is really an agitated state with your body constantly being overworked – and you can’t escape your thoughts.
On a white sand beach
Imagine that you are sunbathing on a white sand beach and having a great time. The reason you feel relaxed is that your body is secreting chemicals like oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine and chemicals that are similar to Valium. Or rather Valium was designed to work on the same receptors that cause you to feel calm. But what if you are lying on the beach and are thinking about the promotion you just missed or your boss yelling at you? Your environment is the same, but your body’s chemistry is completely different. Any time you are anxious or frustrated, your thoughts will stimulate the secretion of chemicals that will cause muscle tension, decreased blood flow to your intestines, dilation of the airways in your lungs, sweating, mobilization of stored energy from your liver, and an increased heart rate to prepare you to defend yourself.
Stuck in third gear
What if you don’t know how to relax or can’t? This is a common scenario and maybe the rule. Do you think it is your body causing that? No! It is your irrational uncontrollable thoughts. It is similar to driving your car 75 mph stuck in third gear. The engine will be racing at 7000 rpm’s instead of 2500 rpm’s. How long do you think your engine is going to last before it needs major repairs or blows up? That is why cars have transmissions. They are intended to match the power required from the engine to the terrain.
Brain = car transmission
How do you think your body is responding to your constantly racing thoughts, “I am not good enough. What will people think? How am I going to pay my bills? Why is my stomach upset?” Every person has these disruptive thoughts and for the vast majority of us they rarely stop. Do you think your body is producing the Valium type substances? Your brain cannot physiologically differentiate a perceived stress from a real threat. Remember in the examples above it was the thoughts that kicked off the body’s response – not physical harm. If you are in a state of constant worry your brain (transmission) is going to be stuck in third gear resulting in a heavy toll on every organ system in your body.
Do you know relaxation?
Why is it so hard for people (including physicians) to understand that EVERY thought you have is connected to a specific change in your body’s chemistry? Of course most variations are imperceptible, but many are not. Under chronic stress your body is going to respond by being in a non-relaxed state. You might be so chronically stressed that you do not even know that your body is in the wrong gear for relaxation. It’s your norm.
Neurophysiologic Disorder (NPD)
Your body can and will produce physical responses to both acute and chronic stress. There have been several names given to this phenomenon as it applies to chronic stress: Mind Body Syndrome, Tension Myositis Syndrome, Central Sensitization Syndrome, and Stress Illness Syndrome. The term I have chosen is, “neurophysiological disorder” (NPD). It is NOT a psychological problem. It is simply your body’s response to a threat.
Are thoughts “imaginary”?
Pain can be generated spontaneously by the chemical imbalance generated by your thoughts, where nerve conduction increases and the pain threshold drops. You’ll feel pain when the stimulus would ordinarily not feel uncomfortable. There are also at least 30 additional symptoms that are caused by this chronic hormonal imbalance. The racing thoughts are not imaginary, nor are the physical responses. What is misplaced is the world’s focus on finding a physical “source” for every bodily symptom.
What is wrong with the medical profession?
I understand the patient’s problem understanding how all of this might work. But what is perplexing to me is why the medical profession doesn’t comprehend and embrace it. All of us learned about every aspect of the human anatomy and function in more detail than you can imagine. We know how connected every part of the body is. Yet we continue to be so fixated on finding a structural source for every symptom that we will perform endless procedures for vague indications. Many are high risk.
Will someone please wake up?
I don’t know who is going to wake up first – the medical profession or the consumers. The first step of treating a patient is to make the correct diagnosis. We continue to under-estimate the body chemistry’s role in creating physical symptoms. This error has resulted in tremendous costs both financially and in causing great human misery. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent treating only symptoms. The tragedy is that addressing the root cause is effective and consistent with minimal costs.