Wednesday, February 9, 2011

placebo effect

I'm starting to feel very burned out from the last two weeks of "rushing". Today I'm hoping to completely finish processing paperwork from the event last Friday and finally get a chance to start really unpacking. It does not help that a good half our stuff is still in boxes and I don't know which box has my sunglasses and I had to dig through a bunch of boxes last night to find my stack of "books I want to read" so that I could relax and read a book before going to sleep. Of course by the time I found my stack I could barely keep my eyes open so I barely got to read. And then I had trouble going to sleep because I was stressing about how much stuff I have to do.

I started reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. He is one of my favorite contemporary writers. I know that technically he is probably considered a journalist, but his writing is so well done that non-fiction takes on the drama and nuance of fiction and is never dry or just a list of facts. I got hooked on him after reading What the Dog Saw, which is one of my favorite books.

The intro to Outliers is about a town in Pennsylvania that has a very low rate of heart disease and related health issues. The conclusion that the researchers came to (although I imagine it wasn't that scientific because how you could take out all the variables?) was that the close-knit community and the common goodwill was what contributed to the good health of the residents. I do think there is something to be said for that. I am constantly amazed by how quickly people in hip, urban areas are willing to take on a persona marketed by advertisers who being independent and not needing anyone else. That sounds awful to me. And unhealthy. But it is very popular.

One of the things I like about our new neighborhood is that I hear the phrase a lot "Just come knock on my door" from the new neighbors. And "Oh, you're new here - we'll have you over for dinner." A lot of the families in this neighborhood seem to really like the idea of knowing each other and being a part of each others lives - kind of like a small town. I had been worried about "the suburbs" being full of people behind closed doors and not wanting to talk to anyone else. And I think there are suburbs like that - probably more so than not. But I think we're really lucky to have found this particular cul-de-sac because I think knowing and being involved in the lives of ones neighbors is so important.

I've also been thinking about stuff like the placebo effect. Back in massage school I took an elective course in Reiki and part of me was really interested and part of me was really resistant because there is no science behind it what-so-ever and what there is, is psuedoscience - twisting scientific theory to fit a spiritual mold and not really pulling it off.

But when I took the course it really worked. And when I did a Reiki session of my husband (the ultimate skeptic) it really worked. And I am guessing that what we are experiencing in the placebo effect. In this case the placebo effect of human touch and the undivided attention of another human placed on us for a set period of time. How often does that happen nowdays? How often do you have someone's complete undivided attention? Usually the person I'm talking with is checking their phone or looking something up on the computer or driving or thinking about paying some bills or looking at the clock to see if it's time to pick the kids up from school. I'm usually thinking about two things at once myself. So, even though Reiki may not be at all what it says it is (life flowing energy coming in through the open channels to universal healing energy) it does have value because it forces two people to be quiet, not think about anything in particular and share physical touch and give each other undivided attention (in a non-sexual way which is even more rare to have that in a non-sexual way). And that by itself can be healing if you look at the Roseto Effect.

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