Thursday, February 21, 2008

Power of mind and frontier science

When we look at an object, we know in an instant that it is a flower. We also know what type, what color, what flavor. We also know how and where and when to grow that plant. All these different qualities of the object flower are possible to perceive because of the highly specialized brain cells located in the cerebral cortex. When last mapped there were 30 such areas to interpret visual imagery alone! Think of our sense of smell, taste and sound and the various interpretations that we do with these sensory inputs. So is thought and its association in our brains. The latter quality has led to what we are today and has enabled human mind to construct and also destroy.

The last word has not been said about brian.There is a huge uncharted territory out there to explore. I recommend to those of you who want to know more, to read books by Vylayanur Ramachandran [the emerging mind, Phantoms in the brain]

Norman Cousins died in 1990.His life and work made me think and approach human health and disease from an angle that is different from that of the taught clinical approach of fitting the known symptoms and signs into a known disease. Keeping the human being as the centre and then looking at his or her problems gives one a different idea and the nature of the suffering and often one could solve the problems where conventional wisdom has failed. In my early days of practice it would often surprise me but now it no longer does as I am becoming aware of the enormous healing power of the human mind.

Norman Cousins wrote several hugely popular books [anatomy of an illness, healing heart]. But the lives of the likes of Cousins and Ramachandran are fascinating because they have, within the confines of our present day knowledge, tried to explain the disease phenomena and suggest unconventional cures.

What we know today about ourselves is only a fraction of what we do not know. That is why Norman Cousins called todays medicine as frontier medicine.

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