In this interview from Democracy Now, Gabor Mate discusses how the mind and body are integrally linked. I would also add that spirituality plays a profound role in the mind and conducted research on that very issues. However, that, not entirely unrelated issue aside, the mind/body connection is lacking from most modern medical practice. Mate says:
The point now is that the emotional centers of the brain, which regulate our behaviors and our responses and our reactions, are physiologically connected with — and we know exactly how they’re connected — with the immune system, the nervous system and the hormonal apparatus. In fact, it’s no longer possible, scientifically, to speak of these as separate systems, as if immunity was separate from emotions, as if the nervous system was separate from the hormonal apparatus...So, in short, we have one system. The science that studies it is called psychoneuroimmunology. And scientifically, it’s not even controversial, but it’s completely lacking from medical practice.
He shares some concrete research in this regard. It is well worth the time to listen to the article. Even in my own work in mental health, it is amazing how little we in the mental health field appreciate the role that mental health, emotional regulation, etc. has in the development of physical health symptomology.
The takeaway from me is that we need to care for ourselves. In fact, Foucault's last volume in his three volume book, "the History of Sexuality" is subtitled the care of the self. The care of the self was a major theme in Greek health education and Foucault suggests a kind of back to the future movement when it comes to eduction.
The basic holistic intuition that there is a connection between mind, body, culture is now scientifically observable but has yet to be translated into educational or health practice. I hope my own research and the research of others can contribute to a different educational praxis.
I will give Mate the last word:
I can tell you from personal experience and observation that people who do that, who take a broader approach to their own health, they actually do a lot better. And I know people who have survived supposedly terminal diagnoses simply because they’ve taken their own mind-body unity, and I would say spiritual unity, as well, seriously, and they’ve gone beyond a narrow medical model of treatment. And I’m not here to disparage the value of the medical approach in which I was trained. I’m just saying that it’s hopelessly narrow, and it leaves many people without appropriate treatment and appropriate support.