Attitudes& Health: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the purpose of this web site?
To develop and prove the effectiveness of a new way to improve health and lengthen life by identifying and correcting unhealthy mental habits. These techniques were developed and experimentally proven by Dr. Ronald Grossarth-Maticek in massive experiments using elderly residents of Heidelberg, Germany. Because the results were so spectacularly successful, they have been ignored or greeted with skepticism by the medical profession. By taking the tests on this site and using the corrective materials offered, you can improve your own health prospects and at the same time help us to replicate the amazing improvements in health and lifespan in the original experiments. By replicating these experiments in a way that can't be ignored, I hope that we can finally convince the medical establishment of the supreme importance of mental factors in promotion of good health.
Why are feelings of pleasure and well-being so important to good health?
Feelings of pleasure and well being originate in the ancient, non-verbal parts of the brain that we share with lower animals through our common evolutionary past. This part of the brain also interacts with body systems which control blood pressure and immune responses. When your basic needs are met, your body's systems work at peak efficiency. When these same needs are frustrated, you may have chronic feelings of hopelessness which drive your body's systems into a kind of "self-distruct mode" where diseases and cancer can easily get a foothold and heart disease, strokes and accidents become more likely. Your ability to think logically in words is a powerful ability which also has the power to ruin your health if it is directed at goals which are actually at odds with your basic needs.
What is self-regulation?
Self-regulation means that you regulate your behavior to maximize long-term pleasure and well-being. It means that you pay attention to results of your behavior and make corrective adjustments as needed. Regulation is what a thermostat does when it regulates the temperature in a building by turning on the heater only when it is too cold. If the thermostat breaks, the regulation breaks down and the building gets hotter and hotter. Similarly, when self-regulation breaks down, habitual behaviors which produce poor results are simply repeated endlessly. The result of such behavioral ruts is as disastrous as when the thermostat breaks. In both cases, failure to regulate the response based on results causes things to get worse and worse. Scores on the self-regulation test are very accurate predictors of future health because people who are good at self-regulation are able to maximize their long-term pleasure and well-being.
Isn't the idea of maximizing pleasure and well-being the same as hedonism?
Good self-regulation emphasizes long term happiness. The negative connotation of hedonism is usually associated with dissolute behavior that produces bad long-term consequences such as overweight, addiction, debts, etc. Relaxing is good for you but doing nothing all day soon results in bad consequences. The important thing is to develop a healthy balance that maximizes your long-term pleasure and well-being.
Couldn't the the real link to better health be through improved health habits?
About three hundred of the people in the self-regulation experiment had good scores on self-regulation but very unhealthy lifestyles. For at least ten years, these people smoked 20 or more cigarettes a day and drank over 60 grams of alcohol a day. They also had an unhealthy diet and did little exercise. In spite of their unhealthy lifestyles, this group outlived a group with healthy lifestyles but poor self-regulation by 8.5 years. Clearly self-regulation has a health impact which is stronger than and goes much deeper than just health habits. Healthy lifestyle was defined in this experiment as no smoking or drinking, good diet and at least 1.5 hours of exercise a day.
Why is the immune system disabled by feelings of hopelessness?
Evolution works by culling the weak and preserving the strong. Mating battles in some species allow only the strongest to reproduce. Predators cull the weak in others. Perhaps the weakening of the human immune system by feelings of helplessness is natures way of culling the outcasts and the unsuccessful to improve the breed. One massive study in Finland examined the health records of 96,000 widowed people and found that their probability of dying was actually doubled in the week after losing their mate. Feelings of pleasure and well-being are messages from the ancient parts of your brain and limbic system that you are thriving and your immune system is running at peak efficiency. Feelings of hopelessness indicate the opposite.
Who supports the cost of this web site?
Currently it is supported entirely from the personal savings of Thomas R Blakeslee. When the self-improvement features of the site are completed, I plan to cover my costs by selling subscriptions to a one-year service designed to improve the specific unhealthy mental patterns uncovered by the self-regulation test. This interactive service will use E-mail to keep you working on healthy personal changes.
Why haven't I heard about this research before?
The unfortunate separation of physical medicine from psychology has caused this important work to be largely ignored by the medical establishment. Part of the problem is that the work was reported in respected psychological journals which are not read by doctors. Another problem is that the results are so amazingly strong that many people dismissed them as "too good to be true." The problem is that the entire medical paradigm of today needs to be rethought and doctors are reluctant to accept anything that so upsets their sense of understanding. Denial has always been a common defense against paradigm-upsetting information.
Who is Dr. Grossarth-Maticek?
Dr Grossarth-Maticek has been doing research on the connection between mental factors and health since the early 60's. He created both of the tests used in this web site and validated them by giving them to thousands of residents of Heidelberg, Germany in 1973. His follow-up 15 and 21 years later established an amazing correlation between the test scores and later good health. He also created and proved the effectiveness of a new kind of corrective therapy designed to improve health prospects by teaching healthy mental habits. The amazing effectiveness of this therapy will hopefully be duplicated by the programs on this web site.
Have Dr. Grossarth-Maticek's experiments been replicated?
The large scale and long duration of these experiments is unprecedented. There have been several less ambitious experiments that have have achieved results which support the validity of Grossarth-Maticek's conclusions. The long time required to test results probably prevents most researchers from undertaking such experiments. Dr Grossarth-Maticek spent over a million dollars of family money on his research. This web site greatly reduces the cost of gathering data by automating it and eliminating the need for paid interviewers making house calls. In 5-10 years time I hope to be able to report that this automated method is equally effective in predicting and improving health prospects.
Where and when will your research results be published?
In 5-10 years time I plan to compare the test scores gathered by this site with health status as determined by public records. I will also compare the health status of people who complete our one-year self-improvement program with those who don't take it. The health effect of careful reading of my book The Attitude Factor will also be determined. The report of these results will be submitted to a major juried medical journal such as the British Medical Journal.