What science studies the effects of mind on immune function?

Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) researchers explore the relationship of cognition and emotion to nervous, endocrine, and immune system functioning. This field was born in the early 1980s when new technology allowed researchers to make the amazing discovery that throughout the body, there are nerve receptors on immune cells. It was that discovery that allowed us to appreciate the impact that the mind can have on physiological functioning.

 Who gets well versus who gets sick.

Medical researchers have always been interested in studying who gets sick and why. In recent years, a new group of researchers in positive psychology, PNI, mind-body medicine, and integrative medicine have been exploring a very different question: who gets well and stays well, and why?

 What applied method is the most evidence-based?

Considerable research now reveals that immune function improves with mindfulness meditation. In fact, researchers such as Doctors Richard Davidson

Dr. Richard Davidson

, Linda Carlson, Roger Walsh, Shauna Shapiro and Jon Kabat-Zinn among others have discovered that mindfulness meditation helps a wide variety of medical conditions.

 Are certain attributes more  common in healthy people?

Mindfulness is not the only form of mind training associated with health. Research psychologist Lawrence LeShan and the positive psychology researchers led by Martin Seligman have identified several personality and behavioral attributes found more in healthy people than in unhealthy people. The attributes associated with healthy people, built upon a foundation of mindfulness will be explicated in future posts, but environmental mastery, meaning and purpose, authentic self-expression, helping others, and social support top the list. These and the other attributes have been found to improve physiological functioning and increase happiness when cultivated in less healthy individuals. 

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