Its a bit of a hippy statement, maybe beyond hippy, even. Maybe more like medicine man.
[If I had a dollar for every time I wanted to say Shaman or Medicine man in my posts...]
I hope you will begin to see a trend in my posts after reading this. I present a very simple title, followed by a concept that is fairly simple, but not usually the "accepted" perspective on a topic. The way we change societies is we come about paradigms shifts - we start thinking about what was once "common sense" as something a bit more complicated, or at least, different than we had treated it before.
Lets take a look at the mind & body.
We often think of the brain as the "us". Well, its doing the thinking, so if we think about who we are, its usually what is doing the thinking. This is so deeply rooted I can't even comprehend not thinking this way, but not everyone does. There are many cultures out there that are much different than mine, ours. They see "us" as the whole body. That may seem obvious, and you may agree, but lets go on to why I find this important!
In western culture, and most cultures, we distinguish the brain from the body. We always say that the brain controls the body. While at the reductionist level this seems true, it really isn't that straight forward. There is no real control going on, but rather many feed-back systems. The body is as much a brain, itself, as the brain is. In fact, there are 100 million neurons in our intestines - that is more than in our spinal cord.
But neurons aren't everything. Our body is so incredibly dynamic, complex, and layered - our blood carries tons of information throughout the body. When our body is sick, our mind is sick, and when our mind is sick, our body is sick. They are not separate things!
In our western culture we are obsessed with breaking things down into their smaller parts. We love drawing boundaries, taking apart things, and reducing them to their lowest common input. Just look at LEGOs (are those still around - is that a good analogy?) or all of the biological sciences. We take big, giant, complex systems, and take them apart - piece by piece, and analyze each piece.
Although this has done wonders, we are reaching the ends of it's usefulness. We need to transition back to putting the pieces back together and looking at the synergies and mutualistic responses. We should be seeing our minds, and bodies, as one.
There is a few tribes in Africa, and possibly else where, that have the odd (to me) idea that when one tribe member is sick, the whole tribe is sick. They aren't thinking that its contagious - they just view themselves as one entity. When one person is suffering, the whole group can not be healthy. The same situation could easily be applied to the United States, and then it becomes painfully obvious why we are all so depressed, desperate, sick, and f*kd up sometimes.
Its all perspective. What we do to our bodies, we are doing to our minds. And what we do to our minds we are doing to our bodies.
This is why stress causes weight gain.
This is why sickness causes "feeling like shit".
This is why depressed people need to see the doctor more.
This is why people who see the doctor more are depressed!
Don't be a fool. If you must study a biological system, be a reductionist where it helps. But reality is much different - our mind and our body are one entity. Understand it, and treat it, as such.