Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Happier, and Healthier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness

Our modern healthcare system focuses on treating individual symptoms. However, there are many factors that impact health. Even people with the same physical condition may have very different outcomes, often influenced by their happiness and social connections. General lifestyle activities are an often neglected important part of treatment. If surgery is performed, yet the underlying bad behaviors are not addressed, the patient will likely come back with new complication.

People that live in kind, social environments will have better health. A person in lower-level stressful job is likely to have worse health than somebody in a higher level job. There is also a strong correlation between level of education and health incomes. A sense of community is also extremely valuable. In a case study of a town with a high sense of community and neighborliness, there was a much lower prevalence of negative medical conditions than would be expected. However, once people started spending more time with TV and less with their neighbors, the benefit disappeared. Places like Okinawa are known for longevity in part due to the community experiene.

The "rabbit effect" itself comes from a study in which different sets of rabbits received the same procedure, but had very different outcomes. The result was caused by the lab worker that was attending to a group of rabbits. She was very loving and friendly to her group of rabbits, thus causing them to have better outcomes.

The author is significantly concerned with the siloing of health care. Mental health and physical health are treated separately, with little effort focussed on the intersection of the two. However, in the real world, there are often strong correlations. This is especially the case in neurological conditions. People with mental illness are often more likely to be susceptible to various other medical conditions.

Epigenetics and long-term impacts are also intriguing. Children born to stressed mothers often have worse medical outcomes. These can even be extended down to their children. Furthermore, traumatic conditions in youth can lead to further bad conditions as an adult. (In one study, there was a correlation between obese patients that had trouble losing weight and childhood trauma.) Our medical system tends to focus on an isolated condition in the here and now. However, our bodies are the sum of all experiences throughout the body. A more holistic approach would be the best for long term positive outcome.

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