Belief in the paranormal and modern health worries
Rīga Stradiņš University, Latvia
It has been found, that despite the improvement of the objective health indicators, people's subjective perception of health is that health indicators are getting worse (Barsky A.J., 1988), which is one of the reasons why a new term “modern health worries” is coming into use in medical literature (Petrie K.J., Wessely S., 2002). People are worried and scared of the effect of new high tech innovations (effect of cell phone radiation, environmental pollution, ozone layer depletion, etc.), changes in manufacturing of food products (genetically modified food, food concentrates etc.). Nowadays, many people, being worried about their health, turn to new eating habits (veganism), defend themselves against various innovations in the health system (vaccination), etc. It could be defined as fear of consequences of scientific progress. The reason of fear is not only the misunderstanding of scientific innovations. Quite often, it is a belief in pseudoscientific theories (for example, “conspiracy”) or belief in the paranormal phenomena (karma violations, disruption of the cosmic plan). In a part of cases protesters against vaccines and genetically modified food belong to new religious movements which are based on belief in the paranormal and magical thinking. Magical thinking predisposes to the negative attitude towards scientific assumptions and innovations, like a genetically modified food (Saher, 2006). Aim of study. To study the correlation between pseudoscientific assumptions, belief in the paranormal and modern health worries. This condition of modern health worries is becoming important for health care system. It causes the increase in the number of symptoms (Koteles et al., 2011), which, in its turn, increases the doctors' visit rate on one hand (Rief W et al., 2012), but, on the other hand, increases evasion to attend traditional medical care activities. Part of supporters of pseudoscientific beliefs experiences anxiety as to the bad food toxins accumulating in the body and undertake unnecessary procedures, like an excessive detoxication of the body by means of enema. Some are of the opinion that meat promotes aggressiveness, while different esoteric theories advise to develop peacefulness and altruism. Consumption of meat can be addressed to as an offense against cosmic morality and karma. Part of supporters of pseudoscientific theories considers scientifically-educated doctors as wreckers, the disinterested, persons who are financially interested in orders of commercial firms and therefore entrust the treatment of even serious diseases to alternative medicine specialists (SKDS, 2012). Turning to unconventional, magical medicine is promoted also by the fact, that part of the people who believe in the magic, view the “healing energy” as being more “natural” and harmless. Functional somatoform disorders, due to modern health worries, can also be “healed” by specialists of unconventional medicine. Since the emotional factors are decisive in the etiopathogenesis of these symptoms, the unconventional medical approach promotes the decrease of functional symptoms. A vicious circle develops – belief in the magic and the paranormal things causes symptoms, at the same time the belief in the magic alleviates the same symptoms. Asa result, a literature review was done on the interrelationship of pseudoscientific assumptions and health worries. Conclusion. When treating the patients worried about their health, one has to take into account the aspects of complicated subjective perception, including belief in paranormal phenomena, pseudoscientific theories and prevalence of magical thinking.
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