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Resilient, Altruistic Persons and Pain
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Sometimes, the new studies that come out just reinforce the glaringly obvious, it seems to me. Maybe I'm just reflecting my own experience?

Anyway, in a study just published there is an acknowledgement that physicians have known for centuries that some patients improve when given what we now call placebos--or given no medicine but smoky incense, incantations, and dance. And other patients do not.

Of course it goes without saying that serious conditions are not cured by placebos, but the phenomenon remains: why do some patients respond to placebo pain medications and procedures, and others do not?

The distinction lies in people's level of anger. "...a new study shows that sugar pills are less effective for people who are quick to anger. The work appears in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology. [Marta Pecina et al, Personality Trait Predictors of Placebo Analgesia and Neurobiological Correlates]"

It was an easy study to do. First the personality profile, then a saline intramuscular injection to cause a little pain and burning, then were given something to "cure" the pain.

Sure enough, hostile, angry people did not respond to the placebo. It worked best for people who had naturally resilient, altruistic (versus angry) personalities.

The researchers found that those who had a positive response produced more of the body's natural painkillers (endorphins), so in fact they were experiencing pain reduction not just imagining it.

Heck, I could have told them all that and saved the research grant money. I would be willing to bet that the same kind of positive response versus reduced response distinction exists for real painkillers, too, based on personal observation.

Having a naturally resilient, altruistic personality makes a difference in so many ways, both personally and in community and in the wider world.

I wonder if those traits are innate or if they can be learned as children. Or a combination of both.

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