Thursday, August 13, 2015

A very stupid organ indeed

A number of years ago I started sitting under a light box first thing in the morning during the winter months to deal with my seasonal slumping habit.  (It's a habit I advise against, fyi.)  Anyway, when I explained to my friend Becky that the light box is supposed to trick your brain into thinking that winter days are longer than they actually are, she said, "Well then the brain must be a very stupid organ."

I thought of that yesterday when I read about a study that said depressed patients who smiled even though they didn't feel like smiling got better faster than the non-smilers.  The thinking is that if you smile, your brain thinks you must be happy, so it gets happier, too.

This is awesome if it's true.  But still.  Come on, Brain.  Aren't you a tiny bit embarrassed about being so gullible?


Paige said...

Seasonal slump is the worst. I thought I'd be better about it in Utah but it still happens.
I've tried that smiling thing. In fact, I was doing it the other night at work when I was in the stockroom scanning endless piles of jeans. Tried smiling to myself. I'm sure if the cameras were on me the all-seeing eye people were wondering what on earth is wrong with that woman's face? Because it feels really tight and weird to smile when you don't feel like it.

James said...

I am smiling! My brain is still stupid, but I am smiling. Good blogging does that for me. I wish there were tricks available to trick my incredibly cagey and smart stomach into thinking that I have just eaten the best tacos, burritos, pizza, and donuts ever...and may a few red haven peaches to make it healthy. (Wait. I could probably just go ahead and eat the peaches.) If I could trick my stomach into thinking it had partaken of such meal...well, I would be smiling for a long time.

Louise Plummer said...

You can't have it both ways. That large impressive human brain that can plan, write music and poetry and put us into space but then can't tell we're tricking it into feeling better. Brain scientists and psychologists ought to try talking to each other. Thinking you can talk yourself out of depression is a huge trap that overlooks your own chemistry. Blah blah blah.

CSIowa said...

We should be careful of the expression "get better." We often use it to mean "get well," but improvement is not necessarily a cure.