The article I chose to review is titled, A Case for Double-Edged Optimism. This article really stuck out to me because I sometimes think I am overly optimistic, which I worry could one day turn out to be my downfall. The other reason I chose this article was because Psychoneuroimmunology is one of the sweetest words I’ve ever seen! The author does a great job explaining the different views of PNI through a couple very interesting stories. He tells a story of a young boy, named Brian, who grows up in the ghetto, later goes to college and gets a PhD in literature. Brian’s goal was to write a bestselling book about his childhood. He eventually wrote the book and knew that it was going to be a success. The second it was purchased by a well known publisher, he lost his cool. For some reason, the thought of success wasn’t a problem. But when Brian actually acquired the success he had hoped for, his brain just couldn’t handle it. He became depressed, then turned to alcohol, later became obese, and then developed heart disease. He had completely changed and it wasn’t for the better.
Scientists have found that thoughts can definitely have an effect on your health. In the above story, you would think that success would have brought happiness, but scientists have found that success only brings happiness when there is enough self-esteem to go along with it. What happens a lot of times when people are successful is that it makes them happier, and when we are happy, our immune system gets a boost and we feel healthier from head to toe. In the case of the “Brian’s” in the world, if that success is so great it is felt undeserved by the individual, it can have a reverse affect, lowering our immune response, allowing illness and disease to set in. Sometimes too much optimism can just plain be too much.
The article also covers the topic of stress and how we usually associate too much stress with high blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. The article also proves that that is not always the case. There is a story of a lady named Rachel who was a school teacher. During the summer months when she wasn’t teaching, she would become very tired and didn’t want to return to school by the time the fall months came around. When that time came her doctor recommended that she make her best effort and go back to school. Now being a teacher can be stressful, but instead of that stress wearing Rachel down even more, it gave her an extra boost of energy. The stress was actually causing her body to wake up and stay alert! This is proven over and over by humans on a daily basis. It’s our natural instinct, that when we’re under some kind of pressure (be it stress) that our bodies become active and our drive helps us to get out of that situation the quickest way possible. The problems that stress causes are when it is constant on-going stress, which we can never get out of. That is when our immune system just “gives up” and weakens to the point where it allows bad things to happen to our body. All of these different points of view open a wide variety of topics for many psychologists today.
I found this topic very interesting because I think I’m a lot like the story of the school teacher Rachel. I thrive off stressful situations. I like to be in them because I feel like my mind works at its best under pressure. I have also begun to realize the effect that has on those around me, and it’s usually not a good one. I have realized how fine a line it is to walk and need to be extremely careful so that I don’t overdo it personally or for those people that are around me. It is definitely good to read on a topic that I feel has a lot to do with everyone’s situation, whether they know it or not.