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IMMUNITY WITHOUT VACCINES, VICTIMS OR VECTORS?

Immune responses are strengthened by diet, exercise and sleep. Underlying conditions such as pneumonia, cancer and diabetes can weaken them. They are deactivated by emotional problems such as stress, anxiety, anger and depression. Poor lifestyle, ill health and emotional difficulties reduce longevity, prevent happiness and cause premature death. Without the will to live, death is how people obtain peace.
It is a harsh call on anyone, a cynical and pessimistic outlook, to observe that many people succumb to various illnesses and death as withdrawal, when their life has become intolerable. Seligman in ‘Learned Optimism’ measured how absence of choice and control increased longevity of residents in retirement accommodation. The mechanism theorised was deactivation of their immune systems by psychological learned helplessness.
Immunity from good physical and emotional health, together with psychological control, could be critical for resisting an infection like COVID-19, without risking becoming a victim or waiting for a vaccine.
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HELPLESS PATIENTS MORE LIKELY TO DIE

Seligman in 1991 published ‘Learned Optimism’ and reported results of an earlier experiment that measured psychological effects on physical health.

Groups of rats in 3 cages had a few cancerous cells injected under their skins. Cage 1 received no shocks. Two of the groups, Cages 2 and 3, then received electric shocks at random. Cage 2 could escape from the shocks by together pressing a switch, which they quickly learned to do when they rushed to the end of the cage and pressed on a bar that turned the shock off for a time. Cage 3 could not escape from the shocks. 

After a time, the rats that were still alive were checked for presence of cancer tumours. Rats with tumours that had grown to more than 6mm were euthanized and recorded as ‘died’.

RESULTS

CAGEGROUPREJECTED TUMOR %DIED %
1no shock (control)5050
2switch off shock7030
3shocked2773

The results were dramatic and surprising. Most surprising was that the rats who mastered the shock and switched it off did better than the rats that had no shock at all. 

DISCUSSION

The rats in Cage 2 had control over unpleasantness, seeming to strengthen their resistance to cancer with lower mortality. The experiment demonstrated a phenomenon ‘Learned Helplessness.’ When an inescapable unpleasantness has to be experienced, the individual’s resistance is lowered generally. Conversely, through overcoming the unpleasantness, the individual’s resistance is strengthened. 

Helplessness is a default reaction to bad events which when it turns on the dorsal raphe nucleus in the limbic system, turns off the hope circuit activated by mastery and anticipation of control. Regardless of the outside world, it produces all the symptoms of learned helplessness: the panic, the passivity, the sadness. If the dorsal raphe was anaesthetised and turned off they didn’t become helpless and their immune system increased activity.

Being in control of even a stressful environment is better for health than being helpless.

CONCLUSION

It is hypothesised that individuals able to exercise control over unpleasant aspects of restrictions and treatment would be more likely to recover from COVID-19. Individuals could have control over their access to care, personalisation of the testing and treatment environment, diet choice, exercise opportunities, limited isolation and social interaction opportunities. Nurturing of control by patients over their treatments and environments would improve their effectiveness. 

Learned Helplessness
The elephant has learned to be helpless.

HELPLESS PATIENTS MORE LIKELY TO DIE

Seligman in 1991 published ‘Learned Optimism’ and reported results of an earlier experiment that measured psychological effects on physical health.
Groups of rats in 3 cages had a few cancerous cells injected under their skins. Cage 1 received no shocks. Two of the groups, Cages 2 and 3, then received electric shocks at random. Cage 2 could escape from the shocks by together pressing a switch, which they quickly learned to do when they rushed to the end of the cage and pressed on a bar that turned the shock off for a time. Cage 3 could not escape from the shocks.

Cage 1 Cage 2 Cage 3

After a time, the rats that were still alive were checked for presence of cancer tumours. Rats with tumours that had grown to more than 6mm were euthanized and recorded as ‘died’.

RESULTS
CAGE
GROUP
REJECTED TUMOR %
DIED %
1
no shock (control)
50
50
2
switch off shock
70
30
3
shocked
27
73

The results were dramatic and surprising. Most surprising was that the rats who mastered the shock and switched it off did better (70% lived) than the rats that had no shock at all (50%) and those shocked (27%).
DISCUSSION
The rats in Cage 2 had control over unpleasantness, seeming to strengthen their resistance to cancer with lower mortality. The experiment demonstrated a phenomenon ‘Learned Helplessness.’ When an inescapable unpleasantness has to be experienced, the individual’s resistance is lowered generally. Conversely, through overcoming the unpleasantness, the individual’s resistance is strengthened.
Helplessness is a default reaction to bad events which when it turns on the dorsal raphe nucleus in the limbic system, turns off the hope circuit activated by mastery and anticipation of control. Regardless of the outside world, it produces all the symptoms of learned helplessness: the panic, the passivity, the sadness. If the dorsal raphe was anaesthetised and turned off they didn’t become helpless and their immune system increased activity.
Being in control of even a stressful environment is better for health than being helpless.
CONCLUSION
It is hypothesised that individuals able to exercise control over unpleasant aspects of restrictions and treatment would be more likely to recover from COVID-19. Individuals could have control over their access to care, personalisation of the testing and treatment environment, diet choice, exercise opportunities, limited isolation and social interaction opportunities. Nurturing of control by patients over their treatments and environments would improve their effectiveness.

Learned Helplessness

The elephant has learned to be helpless.


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GERM WARS: IMMUNE SYSTEM STRIKES BACK

First raiders arrive.

Virus particles swarm into attack.


In science fiction, enemy invaders are usually repelled by armed combatants. They are kept out and there is little inner resistance. This may not be the situation with coronavirus attacks. COVID-19 virus particles try to invade human bodies but are opposed by immune systems armed with killer T cells, phagocytes and lymphocytes. 4200 infections of 6612 cases in Australia have recovered, with 72 deaths, Presumably, the other 2340 cases are being treated or possibly quarantined. Many of the recoveries would be attributable to immune systems that have successfully fought off viral pathogens, with or without medical treatment. Bechamp (1806-1908) was the first to theorize strengthening of immune responses with diet, hygiene, fresh air and exercise. Assiduous attention to these could be as important to flattening the curve as have been social restrictions and medical treatments.
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