Without further delay, in this animated video, I bring you some ideas from my book Minding Corona. [Minding Corona animated video – 13:19′]
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Here is the full written text.
2020 was the year of the virus. At least, it was the first full year. Seen worldwide, 2021 may become worse in many countries.
Everybody knows this scheme. The COVID coronavirus came from an animal source, jumping over to humans. When infected, most people show no symptoms; some get ill, or even die. The virus replicates inside a person and then jumps over to other humans, mainly through the air. That seems all obvious.
The virus is relatively simple. It is one of the simplest organisms on earth. It needs us to do its job. Thus, this not a viral disease. It’s a viral-human disease, like any other so-called viral disease. Not everybody gets sick. Not everybody dies, definitely not of this virus.
So, looking at people, at us, are we simple beings? Are we complex? Or are we very complex? Rest assured, we are very complex. We are even very much more complex than most people imagine. We are REALLY very complex in our bodies. And we are even much more so in our minds. And even saying so is not complex enough. We’ll come back to that.
When the virus enters the human body, this complexity is crucial in establishing who gets sick and dies. Different systems in the body are relevant. The immune system is one of the most important. We may talk about it in simple terms, yet it is immensely complex in reality. This is needed for it to defend us against many threats while at the same time not attacking the own body cells. When the immune system goes awry, people may become very ill or die from, for instance, an auto-immune disease. Moreover, the relationship between the immune system and the nervous system is highly complicated, including many reciprocal influences and even direct cell-to-cell connections. [Garay, 2010]
Due to the immense complexity of both the immune system and the nervous system, we only know a fraction yet of what there is to know, and will become crucial in the future. Yet what we know is enough to see clear, significant, durable influences.
Without any doubt, the mind is deeply involved in anything related to immunology. We see this in tons of scientific research within the domain that carries the fancy name of Psychoneuroimmunology. And that’s the easy term, showing that the mind, the nervous, and the immune system are deeply involved. It will get worse in a few minutes. For now, these are just some highest-level-of-science quotes from many that could be listed here. You might pause the video and read them. You find the references of these and more in my book.
- “The present report meta-analyzes more than 300 empirical articles describing a relationship between psychological stress and parameters of the immune system in human participants.” 
- “The studies summarized in this review indicate that there are important linkages between anxiety and depression and viral diseases such as influenza A (H1N1) and other influenza viruses, varicella-zoster virus, herpes simplex virus …” 
- “Stress-induced immune dysregulation has been shown to be significant enough to result in health consequences, including reducing the immune response to vaccines, slowing wound healing, reactivating latent herpesviruses, such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)” 
- “Stress is an external factor known to be a potent exacerbator of respiratory infections.” 
One more complicating factor, for now, is that our brain – to make it simple – is a network of networks of networks of neurons and connections called synapses. These form enormous patterns of connectivity. To give you some idea, there are more possible patterns in the brain than there are atoms in the known universe. Of course, not all get realized, but it gives some idea of the complexity, the possibilities for going wrong, and the opportunities when using it properly. This is massively underestimated.
It is the subject of my Ph.D., and of much more that I am working on. I’m an expert in this field.
Now it’s time to bring together what we just saw. Remember that we talked about the virus, the immune system, the human mind, and one can also involve sociological factors.
I bring all these elements together in the image of a whirlpool. This complexity is only a tiny part of the relevant reality, and it gives only a little idea of the complexity that goes on in our body and especially our mind. Also, I made this picture in the summer of 2020 and haven’t changed it since then.
At the left side of the picture, you see the virus in a prominent role. Besides are virus-related factors. Going more to the right of the image, we encounter more mind-related factors. There are lots of them. At the far right, I refer to chapter 4 of my book Minding Corona, written mainly during 2020, looking at what was happening and seeing that the mind as a causal factor was practically neglected in its entirety. That has been one tragic disaster that is still going on.
The energy of all these factors comes together in the center, as in a natural whirlpool. It forms a different structure, namely the whirlpool itself. It is a clear and distinct entity, being more than the sum of the constituting elements. In the COVID case, this is what can drag someone down in illness. Not one element is the cause, but the whirlpool that can individually be different.
At the top left, you see a tiny whirlpool. It is the most critical concept of the video. Now we have it also as a bigger image ― and not so simple advice: Stay out of that whirlpool! Every step away from the whirlpool is important and may be crucial. Remember from what we just saw that there are virus-related factors and also many body-related factors. There are also many mind-related factors. They should have been brought into the general picture a year ago. I’ve done my best. It wasn’t enough.
So what is the present situation? Different elements, and as many questions. Of course, there is still the virus, the body, and the mind. We see, for instance, new viral variants. We still know virtually nothing about the placebo and nocebo of much of what is happening. The causal role of stress in getting in or staying out of the whirlpool or deeper parts of it has not been clarified. It’s as if this whole area has been regarded as a complete no-go. I have searched in vain.
From now on, we should use every available tool.
And what tool is more available than ourselves? Only needed for really doing so is a deep and entirely scientific insight in ourselves that many people lack in theory and even many more so in practice. That is the unity of body and mind. I have written about this in blogs and books.
I have just been talking about body and mind as if they are separated, but there is no separate body, nor is there a separate mind. There is, instead, one unity in which body and mind are not different parts. They are both the same unity. In other words, they are two ways of looking at this single unity. Each body movement is a mind movement and vice versa. Note that this doesn’t denigrate the mind, nor does it denigrate the body. Like looking at an artful painting and seeing either the art or the patterns of paint, they are two ways of looking at the same but one entity, not two.
So, there is no influence from the mind on the body because there are no separate mind and body. At every moment, what we can see as the mind is the same as what we can see as the body. This is the situation, and we had better use it.
Unfortunately, we are more than a year further into the pandemic at this moment, and still no prospective research has been done on the role of the mind in COVID progression. That is, on the influence of mental factors in engendering the whirlpool. No financial resources have been made available for such science.
Nevertheless, using my own resources, I have been busy, as you can see. I have written a book for the general public, available on Amazon, for instance. I have developed an app that can also be used specifically in COVID circumstances. I have written several scientific articles, one of them about social nocebo related to COVID. I have done much groundwork for Lisa, a Compassion based real-A.I.-driven, coaching chatbot that can also be used in COVID circumstances. There is still a lot of additional work on Lisa. You can find more about her in another animated video and in blog texts on the AURELIS blog.
Hopefully, in 2021, we can use our mind as an additional tool to relieve the burden of the pandemic, and save many lives.
- Garay PA, McAllister AK. Novel roles for immune molecules in neural development: implications for neurodevelopmental disorders. Front Synaptic Neurosci. 2010 Sep 8;2:136. doi: 10.3389/fnsyn.2010.00136. PMID: 21423522; PMCID: PMC3059681.
- [Segerstrom, 2004] Segerstrom SC, Miller GE. Psychological stress and the human immune system: a meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Psychol Bull. 2004;130(4):601–630.
- [Coughlin, 2012] Coughlin SS. Anxiety and Depression: Linkages with Viral Diseases. Public Health Rev. 2012;34(2):92.
- [Godbout, 2006] Godbout JP, Glaser R. Stress-induced immune dysregulation: implications for wound healing, infectious disease and cancer. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2006;1(4):421–427.
- [Stover, 2016] Stover CM. Mechanisms of Stress-Mediated Modulation of Upper and Lower Respiratory Tract Infections. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;874:215–223.