All value systems based on science are the epitome of optimised knowledge. Of information that is fundamental to our life and existence — and, also to deriving, organising, synthesising, or moulding it through other avenues of knowledge, viz., psychology, biology, and medicine, aside from psychology, philosophy, or economics, among other allied subjects. Such disciplines are not representative of skewed dogma — as certain fringe adherents would believe. As philosopher Plato said, “Knowledge becomes evil if the aim be not virtuous.”

Knowledge tells us more about us and the world than any other rationalisation that may have existed before, or is being exemplified today. Yet, it is imperative to state that every system founded, in times past, was first classified as science. Take for example, Freudian psychology, originally expounded as a transformed off-shoot of applied philosophy of the mind — a roseate form of emerging thought. Agreed, that, Sigmund Freud’s refined ideas were regarded by most thinkers of the era as science. With the emergence of modern medicine, it was, however, labelled as something beneath science — or, far from the perimeter of science and scientific thought. This was nothing short of a catch-22 for proponents, or a nascent field of possibility for scientific minds — to plumb the human psyche from its vast depths and expound its mind-body connect, or intellect.

This bid fair to the most exciting scientific research of our time — one that has ushered in a whole, new discipline called psychoneuroimmunology. The speciality resides in the precincts, or expanse, where our mind and body interact. Its discoveries are as exhilarating as any. It elucidates that our body is composed of two distinct physical defence systems — the first is controlled by the most primeval portion of the brain that also provides us with the “alarm bell” in the presence of physical danger, or what is referred to as the “fight-or-flight” response, characterised by elevated levels of epinephrine and other stress chemicals like cortisol. The second physical aspect is our immune system, the “firewall” that protects us from invading Trojans, viz., pathogens (detrimental viruses, or bacteria, and other microorganisms), in addition to certain fugitive, damaging cells that trigger cancer.

The landmark upshot is simple, also profound — the physical duo is linked from the inside out. When the fight-or-flight response is prompted, the immune mechanism is repressed. This is reciprocal. It only means that our corporeal body may not be able to fight a battle, on two fronts, at the same time. It waits for one hostile pattern to abate, in order to combat the other — with good effect, and vice versa

You’d think of a brace of common examples — in the context. A typical achievement-oriented behaviour, or Type-A, is a fabled invite to a sustained fight-or-flight reality — the outcome is often a trigger for illness. However, the whole purport is not without paradox. If you thought that passive, submissive, or timid personalities (Type-C) were safe, or exempt, from such subtle upheavals, you’d be wrong. The docile personas are just as prone to ill-health. The best thing to do is to promote, or hone, the Type-B behaviour pattern — the Zen middle path — with a sense of deliberate focus to attain harmony and good, optimal health in the long-term, while keeping illnesses at bay. This is easier said than done — yet, trying to be a part of such a personality type is well worth its weight in gold, more so when you inculcate good values, viz., a balanced diet, with a good mix of nutrients, a regular exercise regimen, yoga, meditation, with augmented restraint on alcohol and nicotine and moderate, judicious use of coffee and tea.

(The writer is a wellness physician, independent researcher and author)

Rajgopal Nidamboor