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Dean Ornish on Love and Connection (the Touchy-Feely Stuff)

gift-box-728x400Tricia Ward
Dr. Dean Ornish makes the case for why massage therapy is such a great profession and why massage therapists are needed.

Dr Ornish: Depression has a major impact on our health, so it should be part of any patient evaluation, but particularly for those who have had a cardiac event because depression is so common in these patients. There are standard depression questionnaires you can use in 3-5 minutes to get a sense of whether the patient is depressed. Depression is treatable, whether it is with referral to a psychotherapist, antidepressants, or sometimes a combination of these. Depression scores were reduced by almost 50% in studies of our lifestyle intervention.

Part of the problem is that so many physicians themselves are depressed. If the patient starts to talk about their depression and the doctor hasn't really dealt with his or her own issues, it makes them uncomfortable, and they will often change the subject and start talking about statins and LDL instead.

Dr Ornish: Of course you should touch a patient when you are examining them. The physical exam is becoming a lost art as we tend to rely more on technology.

What alternative medicine practitioners do, even though so much of it is not scientifically proven, is spend time with patients. They listen, they don't interrupt. These alternative practitioners listen to you; they touch you; they often express that they care about you. Whatever the modality, whether it is massage therapy or chiropractic, they spend time touching you. They make you feel a sense of caring and connection. The need for intimacy is such a primal human need.

Many people don't have an extended family that they see regularly, or even a nuclear family. They don't have a church or synagogue that they go to regularly. They haven't been in the same job for 10 or 20 years. We all know that these things affect the quality of our lives, but they also affect our survival to a much larger degree than most people realize.

I asked former four-star Admiral Eric Olson, who was commander of the US Special Operations Command worldwide, if he would make a video on the power of love. He is a former Navy Seal himself—a guy's guy; the most macho of macho. They both talked about the fact that love is more powerful than fear. That is really the message. Even on the battlefield. If you are trying to lead soldiers through fear and intimidation, once someone starts shooting at them that is going to be a lot scarier than anything you can do, so they may run. But if they love you, they will die for you.

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