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Love has consequences for health and well-being. Engaging in joyful activities such as love may activate areas in the brain responsible for emotion, attention, motivation and memory (i.e., limbic structures), and it may further serve to control the autonomic nervous system, i.e., stress reduction. This specific CNS activity pattern appears to exert protective effects, even on the brain itself. Moreover, anxiolytic effects of pleasurable experiences may occur by promotion of an inhibitory tone in specific areas of the brain. Thus, love and pleasure clearly are capable of stimulating health, well-being and (re)productivity: This wonderful biological instrument makes procreation and maintenance of organisms and their species a deeply rewarding and pleasurable experience, thus ensuring survival, health, and perpetuation.
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Neuroendocrinology Letters No.3 June Vol.26, 2005
Copyright © 2005 Neuroendocrinology Letters ISSN 0172–780X
Love Promotes Health
Tobias Esch
and George B. Stefano
Charité – University Medicine Berlin, Institute for General Practice and Family Medicine,
Schumannstrasse 20/21, 10117 Berlin,
Neuroscience Research Institute, State University of New York, College at Old Westbury,
Old Westbury, NY 11568,
Correspondence to: Dr. G.B. Stefano,
Neuroscience Research Institute,
State University of New York, College at Old Westbury,
Old Westbury, NY 11568-0210,
FAX: 516-876-2727, PHONE: 516-876-2732,
Submitted: June 22, 3005 Accepted: June 24, 3005
Neuroendocrinol Lett 2005; 26(3):264–267 PMID: 15990734 NEL260305A13 © Neuroendocrinology Letters
Love has consequences for health and well-being. Engaging in joyful activities
such as love may activate areas in the brain responsible for emotion, attention,
motivation and memory (i.e., limbic structures), and it may further serve to con-
trol the autonomic nervous system, i.e., stress reduction. is specifi c CNS activ-
ity pattern appears to exert protective eff ects, even on the brain itself. Moreover,
anxiolytic eff ects of pleasurable experiences may occur by promotion of an inhib-
itory tone in specifi c areas of the brain. us, love and pleasure clearly are capable
of stimulating health, well-being and (re)productivity:  is wonderful biological
instrument makes procreation and maintenance of organisms and their species a
deeply rewarding and pleasurable experience, thus ensuring survival, health, and
Is love healthy?
Love has consequences for health and well-
being. e better we understand the concrete
neurobiology of love and its possible secondary
implications, the greater is our respect for the sig-
nifi cance and potency of loves role in mental and
physical health [35]. Love is closely related to the
concept of pleasure and positive psychology’, i.e.,
joyful mental states, and therefore has become a
feature not only of thorough psychological but
also basic science research – e.g., neurobiology –
and clinical medicine [15,16,19,20].
Love, particularly in the beginning (i.e., fall-
ing in love), can sometimes be stressful (Fig. 1).
However, it still possesses a strong and overall
stress reducing potential [20]. By helping individ-
uals to cope with stressful situations and, at fi rst,
survive, love truly represents an essential ‘ingre-
dient of a healthy and satisfying life. Reproduc-
tion and sexual behaviors are just one aspect of
love. Community, social support, health and sur-
vival (of the individual and the species) clearly
indicate further benefi cial properties of the bio-
logical love concept.
Social support has documented health ben-
efi ts, and the absence of positive social interac-
tions or social bonds is typically associated with
both physical and mental illnesses [1,4,14,17,21,
22,23,24,30,37,38]. Understanding the nature
of physiological processes that regulate social
attachment could also be of value for the treat-
ment or prevention of disorders, such as depres-
sion or autism, which may involve dysfunctional
social attachment [6,14,25,29,36]. For example,
oxytocin is part of an endogenous homeostatic
system, i.e., re-balancing.  is system has the
capacity to increase social attachment and other
positive social behaviors, providing additional
indirect benefi ts of sociality [6].
Neuroendocrinology Letters No.3 June Vol.26, 2005 Copyright © Neuroendocrinology Letters ISSN 0172–780X w
e brain harbors benefi cial autoregulatory path-
ways and salutogenic functions that contribute to
health by enabling ones experiences in life – e.g.,
love – to benefi t ones health [14,16,19]. However, sci-
ence has long neglected these capacities, i.e., self-care
potential. Yet, in clinical medicine and particularly in
integrative or mind/body medical settings, including
certain forms of complementary medicine, these self-
healing capacities of the mind-brain construct have
become widely popular, and therefore research on the
neurobiological and physiological pathways underly-
ing such ‘healthy’ phenomena as love, or therapeutic
touch etc., has now gained recognition, i.e., funding
Professional clinical programs have recently
evolved that rely on sophisticated research and use
integrative medicine or stress management techniques
and approaches: Stress management is a form of medi-
cal life style modifi cation towards a healthier or more
stress-resistant life (particularly with regard to hardi-
ness against stress-associated disease processes) that
has now proven to be effi cient in a broad array of dis-
eases and conditions, namely cardiovascular, immune,
and neurological or psychiatric disorders, including
prevention [14,16,34,51]. In other words: Stress man-
agement may improve health [4,13]. Hence, stress
management techniques regularly include social sup-
port, meditation/relaxation techniques, and other
pleasurable activities that induce feelings of well-
being and protection, thereby facilitating positive
aff ect, resilience, spirituality, “loving-kindness, com-
passion, and closeness or connectedness – states that
resemble the love concept as discussed above [2,4,5,
8,16,31,32,33,52]. Clearly, these activities and expe-
riences have proven to be biologically and medically
benefi cial, that is, they help to stay healthy throughout
the challenges of life or improve the healing process
[14,26,45]. e placebo response may also be named
here, since it depends on positive therapy expecta-
tions, trust or belief, and it potentially acts via the
same neuronal reward pathways related to love, plea-
sure, motivation and behavior [9,15,16,19,39,46,48,
54]. Eff ects may thus be observed on psychological or
physiological levels, i.e., mind and body, truly indicat-
ing a holistic medical understanding of health and its
secondary implications.
Love and compassion, i.e., loving-kindness, are
integrated in mindfulness trainings such as mindful-
ness-based stress reduction [5,8,26]. Loving-kindness
meditation has been used for centuries in the Bud-
dhist tradition to develop love and transform anger
into compassion [5]. In a recent pilot study, this type
of intervention, delivered as an eight week program,
helped to reduce chronic pain, psychological distress,
and anger [5].
Positive emotions, compassion and happiness help
us to feel better, particularly in stress, and further they
improve bodily functions: Love, compassion and joy
make our immune system function better and help
to battle diseases [8,13,14,16,19,28]. Furthermore,
current research on these topics made the wellness
concept evolve from a sometimes esoteric or non-
scientifi c background and become a major focus of
progressive medical science [15,16,27,28,47,53]. Well-
being therefore is now acknowledged and recognized
as a powerful behavioral tool for supporting motiva-
tion and decision making, that is, choosing activities
that engage rather than numb our minds: If we heed
what gives us immediate pleasure and if we are skep-
tical of our error-riddled’ memories and predictions,
we can learn to spend our money, time and attention
in ways that make us happier [19,27,28,42,53].
Survival and reproduction depend on the ability to
adapt patterns of social and reproductive behaviors to
environmental and social demands, i.e., exibility [6].
Moderate pleasurable experiences, however, are able
to enhance biological fl exibility, complexity and health
protection [12,14,19]. us, pleasure can be a resistance
resource, or it may serve salutogenesis and preven-
tion [11,19]. Furthermore, love and pleasure facilitate
trust and belief into the body’s capability of restor-
ing or maintaining health, i.e., self-healing capacities
[44,48]. ereby, pleasure promotes the desired state of
dynamic balance illustrated above [12,19].
In humans, cognition and belief are vital for reward
and pleasure experiences [16]. Social contacts, in
addition, provide pleasure, hence survival [11,12,14].
ese functions of love and pleasurable experiences
may even stimulate personal growth and develop-
ment [7,19,40,41,43,49]. Findings depicted in this
work therefore indicate a fi ne balance between diff er-
ent physiological states and activity patterns of CNS
regions involved in love and attachment formation
[20]. is dynamic balance has to be maintained to
promote healthy social interactions and relationships,
which usually form the base of effi cient reproduc-
tive behaviors [3,6,50]. On the other side, know ledge
obtained in this area may also help to understand dis-
eases or states where underlying brain circuitries are
interrupted, i.e., malfunctioning.
Taken together, engaging in joyful activities such
as love may activate areas in the brain responsible for
emotion, attention, motivation and memory (i.e., lim-
bic structures), and it may further serve to control the
ANS, i.e., stress reduction [14,15,16,17,18,19,21,22,23,
45,46,47]. is specifi c CNS activity pattern appears to
exert protective eff ects, even on the brain itself [14,16].
Moreover, anxiolytic eff ects of pleasurable experiences
may occur by promotion of an inhibitory tone in spe-
cifi c areas of the brain [10,19]. us, love and plea-
sure clearly are capable of stimulating health, well-
being and (re)productivity:  is wonderful biological
instrument makes procreation and maintenance of
organisms and their species a deeply rewarding and
pleasurable experience [3], thus ensuring survival,
health, and perpetuation.
Love and pleasure carry the ability to heal or facil-
itate benefi cial motivation and behavior, in addi-
tion to ensuring survival of individuals and their
Tobias Esch & George B. Stefano
Neuroendocrinology Letters No.3 June Vol.26, 2005 Copyright © Neuroendocrinology Letters ISSN 0172–780X w
species. A er all, love is a joyful, yet useful, activ-
ity that encompasses wellness and feelings of well-
being – a rather holistic and integrative medical pro-
cedure! However, now we might only add little parts
to the framework, including a possible involvement of
endogenous opiate compounds in love-related signal-
ing processes, leaving most of the questions open for
further research.
is report was in part sponsored by MH 47392,
DA 09010 and the Kiernan Wellness Center. We are
deeply indebted to Ms. Danielle Benz for her exper-
tise in the preparation of this manuscript.
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Love Promotes Health
Neuroendocrinology Letters No.3 June Vol.26, 2005 Copyright © Neuroendocrinology Letters ISSN 0172–780X w
Pour faire le portrait
d‘un oiseau
eindre d‘abord une cage
avec une porte ouverte
peindre ensuite
quelque chose de joli
quelque chose de simple
quelque chose de beau
quelque chose d‘utile
pour l‘oiseau
placer ensuite la toile contre un arbre
dans un jardin
dans un bois
ou dans une forêt
se cacher derrière l‘arbre
sans rien dire
sans bouger ...
arfois l‘oiseau arrive vite
mais il peut aussi bien mettre
de longues années
avant de se décider
e pas se décourager
attendre s‘il le faut pendant des années
la vitesse ou la lenteur de l‘arrivée
de l‘oiseau
n‘ayant aucun rapport
avec la réussite du tableau
uand l‘oiseau arrive
s‘il arrive
observer le plus profond silence
attendre que l‘oiseau entre dans la cage
et quand il est entré
fermer doucement la porte avec
le pinceau
eff acer un à un tous les barreaux
en ayant soin de ne toucher
aucune des plumes de l‘oiseau
aire ensuite le portrait de l‘arbre
en choisissant la plus belle de ses branches
pour l‘oiseau
peindre aussi le vert feuillage et
la fraîcheur du vent
la poussière du soleil
et le bruit des bêtes de l‘herbe
dans la chaleur de l‘été
et puis attendre que l‘oiseau
se décide à chanter
i l‘oiseau ne chante pas
c‘est mauvais signe
signe que le tableau est mauvais
mais s‘il chante c‘est bon signe
signe que vous pouvez signer
lors vous arrachez tout doucement
une des plumes de l‘oiseau
et vous écrivez votre nom dans un
coin du tableau.
Jak namalovat
portrét ptáka
usíte nejdřív namalovat klec
s otevřenými dvířky
pak namalovat
pro ptáka
něco krásného
a prostého
a milého
co ptáka přiláká
postavit plátno poblíž stromu
na zahradě
v hájku
nebo v lese
ukrýt se za strom
a mlčet
nehnout ani brvou...
ěkdy pták přiletí hned se vší kuráží
a jindy váhá celé roky
než se odváží
esmíte ztratit trpělivost
čekat třeba celou věčnost
as čekání
však není nijak úměrný
kvalitě obrazu
dyž konečně pták přiletí
pokud přiletí že
musíte mlčet z hloubi duše
počkat až vletí do klece
a když je uvnitř
musíte zlehka zavřít štetcem dvířka
a potom
smazat všecky mříže
a dávat pozor abyste mu nezkřivili ani
usíte namalovat strom
a najít pro ptáka
tu nejkrásnější větev
a namalovat listí na větvích a svěží vánek
sluneční paprsky
a bzukot hmyzu v žáru léta
a potom čekat až pták začne zpívat
estliže nezpívá
je to zlé znamení
znamení že obraz není k ničemu než k
dyž zpívá je to dobré znamení
znamení že obraz je bez kazu
lehýnka vytrhněte
jedno z ptačích per
a napište své jméno v rohu obrazu.
(in Czech)
To paint a bird‘s
irst of all, paint a cage
with an opened little door
then paint something attractive
something simple
something beautiful
something of benefi t for the bird
ut the picture on a tree
in a garden
in a wood
or in a forest
hide yourself behind the tree
ometimes the bird arrives quickly
but sometimes it takes years
on’t be discouraged
wait for years if necessary
the rapidity or the slowness of the arrival
doesn’t have any relationship
with the result of the picture
hen the bird comes
if it comes
keep the deepest silence
wait until the bird enters the cage
and when entered in
lose the door softly with the brush
then remove one by the one all the bars
care not to touch any feather of the bird
en draw the portrait of the tree
choosing the most beautiful branch
for the bird
paint also the green foliage and the coolness
of the beasts of the grass in the summer’s heat
and then, wait that the bird starts singing
f the bird doesn’t sing
it’s a bad sign
it means that the picture is wrong
but if it sings it’s a good sign
it means that you can sign
so you tear with sweetness
a feather from the bird
and write your name in a corner
of the painting
(in English)
acques révert: our faire le portrait d‘un oiseau
... It has been hypothesized that these elevated cortisol levels are necessary to overcome initial neophobia (Marazziti and Canale, 2004). On the other hand, long-term relationships tend to decrease stress levels and increase feelings of security, accounting for a decrease in stress hormone levels and perhaps attributing to some of the health benefits of long-term relationships (Esch and Stefano, 2005). Another explanation for the increased cortisol levels is that high levels of stress and stress hormones stimulate pair-bonding and attachment (DeVries et al., , 1996. ...
... If the same sex differences also exist in humans, this could imply that changes of amygdala activity during romantic love are also gender specific. However, studies that have included both male and female subjects did not find a sex difference in amygdala activity (Zeki, 2007), and lessening of fear is reported in both males and females in long-term relationships (Esch and Stefano, 2005). ...
... In this second phase, passion remains high, whereas intimacy and commitment continue to increase steadily (Garcia, 1998). Stress is decreased, which may result in several health benefits (Esch and Stefano, 2005). Furthermore, oxytocin and vasopressin are believed to be the major factors during this phase because they are involved in the formation of strong pair-bonds between the couple (Starka, 2007). ...
The plant kingdom is a rich source of bioactive compounds, many of which have used since pre-history for their therapeutic properties to treat a range of illnesses. More recently, some of these metabolites have attracted attention to their antineoplastic activities to treat various cancers relying on different mechanisms to kill. Some of these molecules are glycosides, which have proven useful as anti-cancer agents, namely podophyllotoxin (PPT) anaryltetralin lignan or alkaloids. There are three primary forms of alkaloids, such as indole alkaloids (vincristine and vinblastine from Catharanthus roseus) quinoline alkaloid (camptothecin from Camptotheca acuminata) and diterpenoid alkaloid (taxol and it’s analogous from Taxus and Corylus species). This review considers a variety of plant biotechnology approaches used to enhance the production of these anticancer molecules in different species. In this regard, many in vitro culture techniques such as stimulation of suspension culture and hairy roots are being used to investigate the effects of plant growth regulators and elicitors on various explants.
... Folglich kann das Sich-gut-Fühlen, das auf die Verarbeitung von Opioidpeptiden hindeutet, auch eine gesunde innere Umgebung und die Basis für eine neuartige protektive Überlebensstrategie schaff en. In Anbetracht der Glaubens-und Vertrauenskomponenten des Sich-gut-Fühlens (Wohlbefi ndens), an dem genau diese Signalmoleküle beteiligt sind, könnte dies die Grundlage für gesundheitsförderliche Prozesse bilden, wie man sowohl in Placebo-Experimenten als auch in Therapien der Komplementär-und Alternativmedizin zeigen konnte [60][61][62][63][64][65][66][67]. ...
... Stressmanagementtechniken konzentrieren sich auf gesunde Verhaltensweisen oder positive kognitive Muster und sie befördern auf physiologischem Wege dynamische Gleichgewichtszustände, das heißt, sie helfen, einen Zustand der Homöostase durch ausgleichende Verhaltensweisen wiederherzustellen oder aufrechtzuerhalten [11,107,110,111]. Folglich ist Stressmanagement im salutogenetischen Paradigma und der »positiven Psychologie« begründet [7,60,61,65,66,110]. Man hat inzwischen nachgewiesen, dass professionelle Stressmanagementtechniken zu einem gesünderen Lebensstil führen und einen entscheidend positiven Einfl uss auf das kardiovaskuläre System und die kardiovaskuläre Gesundheit haben [11,[110][111][112][113][114][115][116]. ...
... It has been found that satisfying the love need is positively related to the positive view of life and the world, which makes it the basis for positive psychology. [10] Further research has also pointed out that love is the most important source of happiness and that the ability to love is an essential component of positive relationships that naturally leads to mental health. Moreover, those who belong to loving families are more compatible, stable, and more successful in their social relationships than the children of authoritarian families. ...
... Love is a joyful, yet useful, activity that encompasses wellness and feelings of well-being, also love has been an indicator of strong healthy relationships which, in turn, strengthens happiness. [10] As has been published in a study conducted at Harvard University follows 724 participants as part of the longest-running study on human development in history; the research is done to figure out what makes an individual happy. The research examines every aspect of physical and psychological characteristics to social life and IQ. ...
... To search all combinations to find the global optimum is computationally expensive. In this work, a breadth-first search (BFS) greedy algorithm [34,36] is applied instead to find the optimum. The algorithm works as follows. ...
... In this second phase, passion remains high, and intimacy and commitment continue to steadily increase [30]. Stress is decreased, which may result in several health benefits [36]. In addition, OXT is the major neurochemical factor during this phase, and is involved in the formation of strong pair-bonds between two people [32]. ...
The primary focus behind the overall design involves shifting from a designer-centric concept to a user-centric one. In essence, cars are utilitarian from an engineering point of view and symbolic-emotional from a social point of view. The modern car retains a strong social position and also generates vivid emotions. The tellability of a car is the priority when communicating with a customer. As a result, this paper proposes a computational approach towards studying the relationship between car morphology and the aforementioned produced emotions. Emotions are considered self-measurable and physiologically distinct. Each car is thus self-evaluated emotionally by a panel of potential users. The results of this study allege that cars can be differentiated in terms of emotions. The computing results show that a dominant trend in car style reflects the production of a group of emotions that we called power. These emotions are classified as (a) dynamism, (b) aggressivity, and (c) powerfulness, and are associated with those of (d) elegance and (e) modernity. Two groups of cars mostly correspond to a single emotion: friendly or stable. Finally, a group of cars is characterized by neutrality. It is also important for the designer to be able to foresee changes in style; and if possible, a designer must be able to explain them while considering the emotions produced in time and within context. A possible explanation is that the relationship between a car’s style and its environment tends to be orchestrated and designed as a team. A car’s style can be influenced by both the physical and social environment, and, in turn, impact these environments.
... Romantic love's role as a suite of adaptations and by-products should be investigated. There is theoretical support for the notion that romantic love serves a health-promoting function (e.g., Esch and Stefano, 2005); however, there is a limited number of studies demonstrating a health-promoting effect of romantic love. ...
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Romantic love is a phenomenon of immense interest to the general public as well as to scholars in several disciplines. It is known to be present in almost all human societies and has been studied from a number of perspectives. In this integrative review, we bring together what is known about romantic love using Tinbergen’s “four questions” framework originating from evolutionary biology. Under the first question, related to mechanisms, we show that it is caused by social, psychological mate choice, genetic, neural, and endocrine mechanisms. The mechanisms regulating psychopathology, cognitive biases, and animal models provide further insights into the mechanisms that regulate romantic love. Under the second question, related to development, we show that romantic love exists across the human lifespan in both sexes. We summarize what is known about its development and the internal and external factors that influence it. We consider cross-cultural perspectives and raise the issue of evolutionary mismatch. Under the third question, related to function, we discuss the fitness-relevant benefits and costs of romantic love with reference to mate choice, courtship, sex, and pair-bonding. We outline three possible selective pressures and contend that romantic love is a suite of adaptions and by-products. Under the fourth question, related to phylogeny, we summarize theories of romantic love’s evolutionary history and show that romantic love probably evolved in concert with pair-bonds in our recent ancestors. We describe the mammalian antecedents to romantic love and the contribution of genes and culture to the expression of modern romantic love. We advance four potential scenarios for the evolution of romantic love. We conclude by summarizing what Tinbergen’s four questions tell us, highlighting outstanding questions as avenues of potential future research, and suggesting a novel ethologically informed working definition to accommodate the multi-faceted understanding of romantic love advanced in this review.
... It is widely accepted that social and economic factors influence people's health [40,41]. Among them, social support seems to have an effect on health [42]. In fact, the lack of relationships or social bonds was associated with physical or mental disorders [43][44][45][46][47]. Furthermore, social isolation, especially among the elderly, leads to lower health care utilisation, which produces poorer health status [48]. ...
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Self-perceived health has been used as a good estimator of health status and receiving affection can be a determining factor for good self-perceived health. The aim of the present study was to assess whether lack of social support (measured through Duke scale, which ranges from 11 to 55) was associated with poorer health status measured as self-perceived health, and whether that association was different between women and men. A cross-sectional study was conducted using data from the 2017 Spanish National Health Survey. A descriptive study was performed, and logistic regression models were applied using self-perceived health as a dependent variable. Mean Duke score was 47.6 for men and 47.9 for women (p = 0.016). Moreover, 36.3% of women and 27.6% of men reported poor self-perceived health (p < 0.001). The multivariate analysis revealed that lower scores in Duke-UNC social support scale were associated with poorer health status. That association was higher in women than in men. Poor self-perceived health was also associated with low level of education and obesity, especially among women. There was gender inequality as regards health status associated with lack of social support. These results can help design prevention strategies to improve health.
... To understand the diversity of oxytocin functions in the CNS alone, we introduce the model that oxytocin activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus and stimulates NO release [54]. Figure 2 shows an improved model based on Esch and Stefano [55] for the formation of social bonding by oxytocin. The HPA axis is involved in the control of stress using adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol. ...
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We review the involvement of a small molecule, oxytocin, in various effects of physical stimulation of somatosensory organs, mindfulness meditation, emotion and fragrance on humans, and then propose a hypothesis that complex human states and behaviors, such as well-being, social bonding, and emotional behavior, are explained by oxytocin. We previously reported that oxytocin can induce pain relief and described the possibility how oxytocin in the dorsal horn and/or the dorsal root ganglion relieves joint and muscle pain. In the present article, we expand our research target from the physical analgesic effects of oxytocin to its psychologic effects to upregulate well-being and downregulate stress and anxiety. For this purpose, we propose a “hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis-oxytocin model” to explain why mindfulness meditation, placebo, and fragrance can reduce stress and anxiety, resulting in contentment. This new proposed model of HPA axis-oxytocin in the brain also provides a target to address other questions regarding emotional behaviors, learning and memory, and excess food intake leading to obesity, aimed at promoting a healthy life. Fullsize Image
This develops the topic of Ageing in better health. Here we return to the biology of ageing, that was first introduced in Chap. 1, but with a special emphasis on brain plasticity, a very important topic that is the focus of a fast-developing research program, and we also review psychological health in old age. Initially mentally healthy persons may be at risk of experiencing serious deterioration of their mental capacities as they age; therefore, we devote a section in this chapter to review mental pathologies in the elderly. Special emphasis is given to the analysis of the various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. From there we proceed to address those aspects of ageing that affect sexual behaviour. The challenges experienced by people with a disability (mental or physical) who are becoming older are also the topic of a section in this chapter. We conclude the chapter with a section devoted to older people who reach very advanced ages: the centenarians, semi-supercentenarians, and supercentenarians.
It is necessary to define ‘health’ in order to know how to deal with disease. This is particularly important when we deal with real patients in clinical settings, and even more so when the patient is elderly. Here, an attempt is made to define health in a way that reflects the above concerns, and is of practical use to clinicians. The discussion cannot focus only on established narratives of health. Our society is changing, and it is necessary for our health care models to also change in order to reflect the new necessities faced by people. Therefore, in this chapter I discuss some novel approaches to health, based for example on hormesis, adaptations to digital technology, the complex interactions between cognition and physical functioning, as well as some speculative arguments such as new definitions of the terms ‘ageing’, ‘natural’, and the need to shift from a physical model of health to a more cognitive one. In order to deal effectively with these issues, it is necessary to use both a theoretical and a practical approach, which nevertheless can provide a clinically useful overview of the problems involved.
Attachment security is a critical resource for individuals to preserve relationship quality. Insecure attachment reduces relationship quality and can seriously influence mental and physical health. Adult attachment style is thought to develop through relationships with a caregiver during childhood and social interactions during adolescence according to epigenetic modification and reinforcement learning mechanisms, and is an important factor for developing and maintaining relationship quality. The neurochemicals such as oxytocin (OXT), dopamine (DA), and serotonin (5-HT) have been shown to be critical for pair-bond formation and maintenance by animal experiments. However, the neural basis underlying the human adult attachment has not yet been clarified. We investigated whether the brain regions involved in these neurochemicals are correlated with adult attachment style in healthy male participants using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Significantly activated brain regions, while they were viewing their partner compared to unknown females included the hypothalamus, substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area (SN/VTA), dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) and locus coeruleus (LC), in which each of these regions is involved in OXT, DA, 5-HT and norepinephrine, respectively. Moreover, higher activity in these brainstem regions was associated with less attachment anxiety. These brainstem regions are primarily important for basic survival functions and well-being. Based on these results, in humans, neurochemicals such as OXT, DA, and 5-HT may be also critical for developing and maintaining relationships, and adult attachment style may be developed based on the epigenetic modification and reinforcement learning mechanisms through relationships with a caregiver during childhood.
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Stress has a major impact upon the immune system. It plays a significant role in susceptibility, progress and outcome of immunological disease. In particlular, stress may cause or exacerbate disease processes depending on the type of stressor involved and/or the duration of its influence on an organism. Thereby, subjective or individual differences have to be taken into account. This fact makes it difficult to predict an expected result following the experience of challenging stimuli (stressors) that are able to evoke the allostatic stress response and lead to physiological, psychological, and behavioral adjustments. Hence, in general, stress has the capacity to exert either ameliorating or deteriorating effects depending on the degree of allostatic loading experienced by the individual and the ability to dissipate it. (...) The found close relationship between stress and immunological diseases respresents an important aspect of extended modern medicine. Strategies for medical therapy that focus on stress management and mind/body interconnections may be valuable adjuncts in new regimens to counteract immunological disease processes. However, in order to maximize the effectiveness of such approaches, further investigation into how stress modulates stimulatory and inhibitory immune responses and how relaxation and social support may help to maintain allostasis and avoid immunologic dissonance, will be needed.
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Fragestellung: Welche Bedeutung hat das moderne Stresskonzept für Gesundheitsverhalten und Prävention? Vorgehen/Ergebnisse: Vom Begriff „Stress” existieren verschiedene Definitionen. Dies ist für die Medizin von Bedeutung, da in wissenschaftlichen Veröffentlichungen der Begriff zunehmend gebraucht wird (wie ein einfacher Überblick verschiedener Indizes medizinischer Bibliotheken verdeutlicht). Zum besseren Verständnis wird die historische Entwicklung des Stresskonzeptes beleuchtet. Verbindungen der Stressforschung zu biopsychosozialem Modell/Psychoneuroimmunologie sowie zu Mind/Body Medicine und Präventivmedizin (z. B. Public Health) werden hergestellt. „Stress” wird gefasst als Oberbegriff, er beschreibt Effekte psychosozialer und environmentaler Faktoren auf das physische bzw. mentale Wohlbefinden. Stressoren und Stress-Reaktionen werden unterschieden. „Stress” und Gesundheit werden in Beziehung zu Gesundheitsverhalten und Lebensstil gesetzt. Schlussfolgerungen: Aufgrund der Komplexität im Bereich der Stressforschung ist es wichtig, dass Definitionen jeweils angegeben und durchgehend eingehalten werden. Weiter versucht das Individuum bzw. Subjekt, eine Balance/Ordnung zwischen Stressoren und Stress-Reaktionen, zwischen krankheits- und gesundheitsfördernden Faktoren zu erhalten, welches durch die präventivmedizinische Stärkung von Eigenkompetenz und Selbsthilfe unterstützt werden sollte. So entsteht ein integratives, kapazitäten- bzw. ressourcenorientiertes Gesundheitssystem. Dabei ist die Orientierung am dynamischen Gleichgewicht und die dadurch bedingte Verminderung negativer Auswirkungen von Stressoren/Stress-Reaktionen auf die Gesundheit ein möglicher Weg zur Erzeugung eines modernen, kosteneffektiven sowie partnerschaftlichen Arzt-Patienten-Verhältnisses. „Stress” kann somit auch „gesund” sein, als Herausforderung Flexibilität und positive Veränderungen induzieren. Schlüsselwörter. Stress - Gesundheit - Prävention - Lebensstil - Psychoneuroimmunologie
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Stress, Adaptation, and Self-Organization: Balancing Processes Facilitate Health and Survival. Background: Stress is of growing significance not only in established industrial countries. Preventive medical aspects are becoming important in association with the stress phenomenon. Objective: Discussing the correlation between stress and health (or disease). Does a state of dynamic balance play a role in the context of stress, allostasis, adaptation, and self-organization? What kind of influence do balancing processes have on health and survival? Results: Stress itself is neither harmful nor healthy. Instead, it represents a fundamental biological principle that is associated with vivacity and that facilitates adaptation, dynamic balance, self-organization, and survival within a constantly changing environment. Stress may also be of significance for biological evolution. A crucial part of the physiological concept is the autoregulatory stress response. Thereby, stress may enhance biological creativity and health, but may also lead to allostatic load and disease. Not only exogenous stressors, but also the subject itself decide upon the individual stress outcome. Conclusions: Dynamic balances characterize life and survival. Further, they are crucial for health processes. Stress may facilitate a ‘healthy’ balance or enhance disease processes likewise. Hence, the subjective inner structure or self-organization of an organism determines – in addition to exogenous factors – individual consequences of stress. Therefore, prevention should strengthen the subject and amplify self-capacity and responsibility. Professional stress-management strategies or integrative&sol;mind-body medical programs may be helpful.
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The primary objectives of this article are (a) to put forth an explicit operational formulation of positive human health that goes beyond prevailing "absence of illness" criteria; (b) to clarify that positive human health does not derive from extant medical considerations, which are not about wellness, but necessarily require a base in philosophical accounts of the "goods" in life; (c) to provoke a change of emphasis from strong tendencies to construe human health as exclusively about the mind or the body toward an integrated and positive spiral of mind-body influences; (d) to delineate possible physiological substrates of human flourishing and offer future directions for understanding the biology of positive health; and (e) to discuss implications of positive health for diverse scientific agendas (e.g., stress, class and health, work and family life) and for practice in health fields (e.g., training, health examinations, psychotherapy, and wellness intervention programs).
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Hypothesized that hardiness—commitment, control, and challenge—functions to decrease the effect of stressful life events to producing illness symptoms. 259 upper- and middle-level male managers (mean age 48 yrs) were administered a battery of tests (including Rotter's Internal–External Locus of Control Scale, the Schedule of Life Events, and the Seriousness of Illness Survey) covering a 5-yr period. Results support the hypothesis by showing main effects on illness for both stressful life events and hardiness and an interaction effect for these independent variables. (37 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This paper outlines two pathways through which social support can influence the prevention or progression of cardiovascular disease: health behaviors and neuroendocrine mechanisms. Its primary focus is on neuroendocrine pathways, reviewing data which suggest that lack of social support is etiologically related to coronary artery lesion development through two mechanisms: sympathetic-adrenomedullary influences on platelet function, heart rate and blood pressure in the initial endothelial injury; and pituitary-adrenal cortical factors involved in smooth muscle cell proliferation during progression of the lesion after injury has taken place. It hypothesizes that the buffering effect of social support on the cardiovascular system is mediated primarily through mechanisms associated with the release of oxytocin.
Presents an animal model of how learned helplessness may manifest itself as depression and anxiety. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)