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Chapter 2. All About Stress > What Is Possible?

What Is Possible?

But enough of this doom and gloom scenario! Are we totally at the mercy of our past and current stressors? Is there nothing we can do? Research and an overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence supports the idea that, just as we have the potential to slowly destroy ourselves, our mind-body system can also create miraculous beneficial results. What is possible can sometimes border on the unbelievable.

For example, you may have heard the story of Norman Cousins, who wrote about his remarkable recovery from a supposedly incurable and very painful connective-tissue disease that leads to spinal deterioration and paralysis in his best-selling book, Anatomy of an Illness (1981). Cousins refused to buy into the gloomy predictions of his physicians (who gave him a one-in-five-hundred chance of recovery), so he designed a regimen of self-healing based largely on using humor as a stress reducer. As part of his regimen he spent several hours daily watching movies of the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers. Initially he reported that ten minutes of belly laughter had a powerful anesthetic effect, allowing him to sleep at least two hours without analgesic medication (painkillers). Laughter also reduced his inflammation, probably by stimulating the release of endorphins. Ultimately, much to the surprise of his physicians, he went into a complete remission.


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