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Michael Alexander

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Hope: The new medical drug?

Can people persevere through their malady in the presence of hope? Hope has been an emotion human beings encounter since the beginning of time, yet is it just recently being used as a new drug to "cure" for a lack of a better word, patients.

The human mind is merely a manifestation of the brain. It is apart from the body, as if a cloud that hovers 2 feet above your head. Although apart from the body, the two coincide together in order to provide daily functions such as perception, memory, etc. In fact, we think of the brain as a woven mantle instead of a quilt. It has thousands of interconnecting circuits and communication centers as opposed to each cortex separate from one another. But does the mind have the power to heal? More specifically, does emotional hope and resilience bring physical and mental restoration? I believe so.

We must get one thing clear. We are not talking about false hope. False hope is telling a patient everything will be fine and there are minimal risks to the procedure. This provides not only the patient, but the family false hope. This can be detrimental to a patients health and mental state.

Instead, we must give the patient true hope. We must tell them the truth about their situation, give them the basic facts without an overwhelming "You're going to die" sense of nature. This will present the patient with fear. However, fear, coexisting with an equilibrium of hope, can be more powerful than any dose of dopamine to dampen the effects of Parkinson's.

Similar to experiments involving placebo's, hope has the power to palliate the effects of illness. In fact, hope has the power to release endorphins in your body which in turn acts as morphine to the pain. Can hope be the new medical drug in this generation? Can doctors, with time and experience, grasp the concept of a new outlook on a persons misery, and turn it into a miracle?

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  • Jul 28 2012: A very well considered conversation topic. It could be that the medical profession could learn a bit about human feelings and relationships, plus patient concepts of self worth. I don't mean to pick on the medical field and neither do you, but people do need hope when ill. I concur they should not be victims of false hope.

    What is hope? This may be difficult to define. A sense of knowing there is something possible could be a basis for experiencing hope. Why talk about hope unless there is an implied concept each person is valued by someone. Surely hope must be linked to personal sense of value and worth.

    Maybe a person feels worthless if not validated by others or is ignored. Consider patients and elderly who have no family or family does not care. Giving hope may be like giving validation of value and purpose. The giving to one in need could be the one most important feature of healing many people would need.

    Giving hope may include a validation of eternal value of a person. We cannot see the other side or afterlife; faith could be a strong basis for hope for life continuation in situations where there is little chance for continuing human life.

    To how many aspects of life could hope be applied? Crime in a family can be devastating. Giving hope for a family for the turn about of behavior and a return to good relations for the offending one might be a major gift.

    Your comments suggest well balanced thinking. Would you continue to promote the use of hope in other venues?

    As the now older saying goes, "Keep on truckin".
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    Jul 27 2012: Hope is not the Newest, It is the Oldest. and The BEST!
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    Aug 9 2012: @RandomChance
    People hope that someone will care for them when they are unable to do it for themselves. If no-one does that, then the person will die. Do you see something wrong with wanting to continue living?

    At its simplest, hope is what gives people a reason to live.

    Truth is an unprovable abstract. We perceive through our senses and emotions, so what we perceive is subjective, and being subjective, cannot be defined as truth.
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    Jul 31 2012: It has been observed for a long time that removal of hope has an adverse effect on both the physical and mental state of an ill person.

    Consider some of the worst practices which do occur in the so-called caring professions:
    - crass announcement that there is no chance of getting better
    - denial of the emotional support that would allow someone to feel that they are still a valued member of the human race
    - denial of basic care and pain management
    - denial of social interaction
    - denial of personal dignity.

    All of these practices are designed to remove hope and reduce the patient to a non-human unit. Patients treated in this way have a high incidence of choosing to give up the fight for life.

    It's pretty clear from what happens if hope is denied that it has a major role in treatment.
    • Aug 1 2012: I'm not sure I understand what you said.
      Where are social interaction, basic care and pain management the same as hope? Or giving, allowing or extending personal dignity? Also, the same with the denial of emotional support? None of those have anything to do with hope. They are ways in which people interact. They are part of people's job activities. OR,
      They are the actions of someone who is very mean, sadistic and cruel, for whether or not there is no chance for someone, why would anyone in that line of work be allowed to "mistreat" patients?

      Telling a person there is no hope for them is about the only thing you've listed that has to do with hope. According to you, if I understand, then don't ever tell anyone the truth. They don't want that. They want the lie.
      Okay. Every one has a choice, or should have.
      You say that, "if hope is denied....." Well, hope is denial. That's what it is. It isn't real. It is not wanting the truth because then the truth requires action. So, a person can still get into action in what ever manner they are capable of, and they can choose to go on or not, but none of that is gained or achieved by hope.

      Sorry but I just cringe when I hear people talk about hope. Unless one has been to a place in which there is no light, no god, only frozen paralysis, no air and crushing pressure, they will continue to believe in such false things to their detriment.

      One either has learned that they are all right, even as they are being ripped to shreds, or they haven't. Until they know they are, they will continue to embrace the lie known as hope.

      When one abandons hope, one becomes free. Would you ever give up caring? Would you ever choose to let go of care? Probably not, but why not? The main definition of care is, "a troubled state of mind." Would you not be willing to give up a "troubled state of mind?" Why wouldn't you,in the hope it will work?

      Let go of all, old ideas absolutely.

      The mind creates the abyss,
      And the heart must cross this.
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        Aug 2 2012: It's a negative correlation. All the practices I mentioned have the effect of removing hope, and have been shown to have adverse and often fatal effects. And there are numerous documented instances of these practices being carried out by medical practitioners.

        Doctors routinely (and often incorrectly) tell patients that their condition / injury will not improve.
        It is increasingly common for medical staff to treat patients as instances of illness rather than as people.
        There are many documented instances of denial of care and pain management, and in the past month UK papers have reported a death in a patient denied water, and another death in a patient denied both food and water for a full week.
        Hospital is an isolating exoeruence, and fewer andnd fewer nurses have the time or inclination to communicate with patients
        There are also regular reports of patients, particularly elderly ones, being left soiled for extended periods of time.

        Even if a patient knows their illness is incurable, they can still hope that people will care for them and respect their humanity. Remove that hope and you leave them without a reason to live.

        Hope isn't about untruth. It's an expectation that the future holds something that can be welcomed, even if the overall picture is bleak and the future is short. A patient can accept that they only have a short and painful time to live, but still hope for the opportunity to say goodbye to friends and family. There's nothing unrealistic about that.

        Hope isn't the opposite of truth, it's the expectation that the future holds something positive.
        • Aug 9 2012: Don't worry. Something good will happen.
          If it doesn't? Don't worry.
          Something bad will happen. Will you be okay? You already are.
          Do you believe that? If you do, are you going to trust it?
          If you are, are you going to worry about it, i.e, hope?

          What do you do when there is no hope? Hope some more?
          What do you think when you have reached a place that is hopeless?
          Lie to yourself? Okay, that is fine if that is what people wish to do.
          I have found hope to be false, so I made my statements.
          Sorry if they found no understanding.

          I know that people can wish, or hope, that people will care for them and respect their humanity but I really wonder why that is necessary. Please think about that. Why is it necessary and is the very idea to do so, necessary in you? In other words, do you do it automatically or do you have to think about it, sometimes talk yourself into it, or other times withhold it from some and give it to others, because you have somehow arrived at conclusions that some are worthy of it and some are not?
          I agree that humans treat one another badly and tolerate a tremendous amount of the injustice, cruelty and torture that is bestowed upon billions.

          The best thing the Nazis did for the Jews was to tell them, "to abandon all hope, ye who enter here." Most probably hoped they would survive. Almost all didn't.

          There is freedom in letting go of hope and it is called truth. What ever happens can change, or it might not. I prefer not hoping but knowing the truth, no matter how bad it might be. I have one thing in my life that "I know" is true and it reduces every thing else to the size of a drop of water before it "pings!" into nothingness and disappears.

          I was surprised when I read in Eckhart Tolle's book, the Power of Now how important it is to have just one thing that you know and trust and will not worry about, and that is the solid part of one's being. It has nothing to do with hope, or even faith. It is a knowing.

          Most say, "NO!, it is impossible to know
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    Jul 28 2012: Justin Ashton is right. Hope is old, and it works.
    Every new frontier of development and advancement is based on hope. Hope that what is thought to be impossible is possible; hope that life is all about facing numerous challenges with courage.
    Scientists are hopeful people, christians are hopeful people.

    Hope is a better path to progress than hopelessness and resignation. In fact, hope is the best.
  • Jul 28 2012: No. A new/old placebo, now used as a drug.
    I know hope to be a false concept.
    There is no such thing as "false hope". Hope is false.
    It is perhaps, the most commonly believed in false concept in the world, among many other false concepts humans worship. It is an expectation by definition and not real.
    Nothing is accomplished, with or by hope. Things are done by action and hope is not action, not even spiritually.
    If one has hope then it must transform into something else. That "else" is faith, achieved, found or built by action. Along the action-way, this faith is built but then faith itself must transform in to something else or it becomes like hope again, false, blind, inactive and not wanting to do anything or know the truth. The truth frees the person, the diseased cells.
    What must faith then transform into? Knowing.
    If one doesn't come to "know it', then all is false, blind and worthless.

    Look at the very act of hoping. Why do people hope? Because they don't know. Usually when I ask those who profess to believe in God, whether or not there is a God, they (in my limited experience and limited numbers) reply, "I hope there is." That to me means they don't really believe there is one. They just hope there is.

    Hope is not positive. Because it is worshiping the false, it is a negative. Hope for things to happen. Hope for things not to happen. What happens? Whatever does, it cannot be proven, but consider all that is hoped for that doesn't, and all that is hoped against, that does. Which is real? I hope this plane crashes, and it does. 367 others on it, are hoping it won't. It does. So my hope was real and theirs wasn't? So, I wake up, realize what's happening and join in their hope. What happens? The plane crashes. All our hope wasn't real, or was it?
    Don't worry, something good will happen. If it doesn't, don't worry. Something bad will happen. Do you know that through it all, you're okay? Don't know the Out-Come, but know, you will Come-Out the other side.
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    Jul 28 2012: Wasnt hope one of the fundamental concepts of religion?

    -Ithink weve used the "hope concept" for centuries without taking it too serious from a scientific point of view.

    About the "mind being apart from the brain/body" (if i understood that right... not sure) well as far as i can tell ... no just no! -sorry about that but you can still hope that im wrong (it will help your health :D)

    However i have to agree "hope"/"positive thinking" have a way greater impact on our physical health then we normally think. We are way to complex organisms to fully understand yet, everything is higly connected, not just the brain but the whole body, if my brain releases dopamine i suppose it will neccessarily also reach neurons in every other part of the body where it controls fundamental functions (such as bloodflow).

    And if hope can lead to hapiness which is basically the presence/absence of certain neurotransmitters then yes ofcours hope can be seen as "natural medication".

    -Thanks for the great topic!