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I propose, based on research evidence from the fields of cultural psychoneuroimmunology, cultural neuroscience, functional medicine, biocognitive science, and cultural anthropology, the following:

  • Illnesses are culturally learned and the causes of health are inherited.
  • Growing older is the passing of time, and aging is what we do with our time based on the culturally-learned premises we use to interpret our experiences.
  • Family illnesses are propensities rather than genetic sentencing.
  • Growing older does not have to be a progressive and uncontrollable deterioration.
  • Addictions and other behaviors of excess are not illnesses: they are socio-culturally learned strategies to avoid fear of accepting personal empowerment.
  • Attention deficit disorder is a “medicalized” term for curiosity abundance: It is neither a disorder nor a deficit.
  • Reductionist medicine diagnoses, treats, and prognosticates based on averages rather than individualized evidence.
  • It’s easier to cure an illness than to confront the conditions that maintain the illness.

Biocognitive science defies myths that have been perpetuated as truths by health disciplines that base their evidence on 19th century reductionist causality. In other words, academic biology still applies mechanistic principles borrowed from Newtonian physics to explain cause and effect on sentient beings that self-regulate and respond to conditions differently than machines.

Increasing evidence from the sciences that study healthy brains, the exalted emotions and elevated cognitions is beginning to debunk genetics as the principal contributor to our health and illnesses. For example, genetics only accounts for 25% of the longevity of healthy centenarians. But since we live in a quick-fix society, we are taught to wait until we break before making healthy changes, and then to look for external solutions to solve internal processes.

Biocognition is a science of wellness that offers evidence of what we can achieve when we are given hope, instead of focusing on how we fail. Consider these ideas:

  • Change cannot occur by reasoning out solutions without experiencing the process of transitioning from beliefs that no longer serve us well.
  • Forgiveness is an act of self-love to free us from self-entrapment.
  • Our relationships can remain vital and meaningful for a lifetime.
  • Our tribes punish personal excellence beyond the pale, and we learn our self-valuation and self-deprecation from what I call “cultural editors:” people given authority in cultural contexts (parents, teachers, clergy, physicians, and so on).

Remember, your mind communicates with your body — and your cultural beliefs influence that communication.

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Dr. Mario E. Martinez is a clinical neuropsychologist. He's the founder of Biocognitive Science and the Biocognitive Science Institute. Proposes that most illnesses are culturally learned and the causes of health are inherited. Based on his extensive fieldwork with healthy centenarians from five continents, Dr. Martinez teaches how healthy longevity can be learned at any age. Martinez has published numerous articles in professional journals and books about how cultural beliefs affect the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems. His new book is The MindBody Code: How to Change the Beliefs that Limit Your Health, Longevity, and Success.

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. I’m a cultural anthropologists myself and from extensive fieldworks in different parts of the world, I’ve come across other, and in my view, culturally more appropriate ways (than the scientific one) to approach illness; cultures that focus more on the reasons behind illness, the conditions that maintain illness, and that give much more attention to wellness than illness. (Just imagine this excessive focus on illness, rather than wellness, that pervades our medical system!) I cannot agreee more with Martinez conclusion that illness is something culturally learned. And so is the belief in what is considered as the most effective, appropriate (and necessary) health procedures in order to treat illnesses.

  2. This looks a lot like telling me it is my fault I have arthritis (for example) and all I need to do is tell myself I do not have it. I wonder how old this Mario is ? and whether when he is 80 or 90 he will still think the same. Nothing lasts for ever, and our bodies break down as they age.

    1. I find that no matter how many times I explain that illnesses are not the fault of the patient, some continue to misunderstand my point. You did not cause your illness, but you can help yourself improve your health if you pay attention to what you can do to trigger your causes of wellness. Read my book and you will see I am teaching empowerment rather than guilt. My best wishes to you, and thank you for taking the time to express your opinion.

  3. Though this is from 2014, I just read it and agree 100%. Happy to see my thoughts that we can change our health for the better using many non pharmaceutical methods.

  4. As long as my scale says that I’m 42 I don’t care about the year 1943! Mind hacks and bio hacks, mineral balance, and resilience will always turn back ‘the infamous clock.’

  5. This is a timely and critically important message whether it is 8 years or 80 years ago written. There is hope that people will awaken to the idea that they do not need to be told what to do and that there is not a source of divine truth passed down through the ‘self-selected’ preachers, teachers, doctors etc.

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