Tuesday, 4 August 2009

I Believe in Miracles

I continue to muse over 'gut feeling'. And this inevitably lead me to google.

Apparently expression of feeling from the gut was common in the Hebrew Bible. Back in those days (and I believe subsequently throughout the Middle Ages - this could be the same time [geographer not historian!]) people believed that certain functions/feelings/ailments/abilities were linked to certain parts of the body: a persons emotional, spiritual and mental attributes were sourced in the bowel (many believed it to be like a 'second' brain - if this is the case then clearly mine needs a strait-jacket, padded cell and packet of crayons...). Thus, in hebrew scripture the bowel is often referred to in abstract relation to the emotional reality. For example:
Song of Solomon 5:4

'My beloved put his hand to the latch of the door, and my bowels were moved for him'

Whilst this may appear to be description of a common occurrence in the UC household, in fact what it is describing is the wife's emotional passion for her husband... Now, I looked this up in my trusty Good News Bible (of which we have at least 3!? My only explanation is that these are pretty much used universally in schools, and so, miraculously they find their way into my bag...) and here the passage reads: 'My lover put his hand to the door and I was thrilled that he was near'. Obviously the relationship between bowels and passion was much more agreeable in the times of Hebrew scripture.

Following some further links lead me to discover more contemporary writings on the so-called 'second brain', or Enteric Nervous System (ENS) to give it a feasible-sounding name. This, apparently 'independent' neural system is capable of learning (mine has been regressing, kept back in primary school), remembering (Ha! remembering how to make my life shit) and emoting (mainly anger then) according to writing by such eminent people as: Sarah Blakslee (NY Times writer, who publishes regularly on science!?) and Dr Michael Gershon in his 1998 book 'The Second Brain' (it exists, I found it on Amazon and was highly amused by the single, tragic comment...). The work of both these people suggests understanding of the 'second brain' will enable you to journey the path to cure all bowel ailments. Charlatans! That's what I say anyway.

Perusing all this nonesense lead me to note another name that rears it's head frequently: Dr. Jordan Rubin. Now this guy claims to have fought back from death due to Crohns disease, and then uses this fact as accreditation for his own miracle diet/cure for all things bowel (including crohns and UC) - he has even found the same biblical quotes as me! Now, Jordan having been failed by conventional medicine set off on a new path to recovery:

Fortunately, Jordan and his family were determined and sought more than 70 alternative nutritional therapies throughout the world after conventional medicine and numerous hospitalizations failed. His quest for answers concluded with a visit to a California nutritionist who simply told him he was not healthy because he was not following God’s plan.

Of course! God's Plan! Anyway, it worked for him (read the inspiring story at the web address above) and subsequently he has been able to write several best selling books based on his diet (that also interestingly stresses the importance of supplements that you can helpfully buy from his company), read several of his blogs, see him on TV and even listen to him speak live... My gut feeling here is that there is a moral question to be answered by people like Dr Rubin (incidently, although he is often referred to as 'Dr' online, he is not on his website, and I cannot find any evidence of what he is a 'doctor' of).

So, what do I conclude from all of this?
  1. Despite suggestion to the contrary, the gut cannot be trusted as a decision maker. Especially not mine.
  2. The origins of the term 'gut feeling' date back to biblical times, but really its use is indicative of emotion rather than cognition. The only feeling that stirs up my gut is anxiety.
  3. There are plenty of people out there willing to make a fast buck out of the chronically ill with, in my opinion, no more than a dubious basis for their affirmations.
  4. People who write about the 'second brain' struggle to soundly argue its existence scientifically.
  5. If it's miracle cures you're after I prefer the sound of these two chaps found by Martin over at Number Twos.


Martin said...

I've since found two more flyers from these fly-by-night spiritual healers.


And a Mr Sheikh Ismail, who brags 100% GUARANTEED RESULTS WITHIN 7 DAYS BY THE WILL OF GOD.

I'd stick to your conventional drugs, Rich.

Sobotka said...

How about this from Oliver Cromwell:

Rich said...

Hi Martin - you really have an abundance of door-to-door healers round your way, by the will of God. We don't get anything like that in these parts, I'm pretty much at the mercy of the NHS...

Hi Frank (may I call you that? the shoebox of cash, I mean 'subs' are in the third locker at victoria station), if cromwell beseeched me in the bowels of anyone, even christ himself (bowels mainly filled with fish and bread) I'd find it hard to be persuaded...

Whittles Wobble said...

I couldn't help wonder what you'd do in a padded room in a straight jacket with a box of crayons. You certainly couldn't color; you'd never know what you were coloring. Perhaps sniffing them? ...eating them? Then spattering rainbows on the padded walls from your southern region?
You may very well find your calling when nature next calls...

Rich said...

That's genius Whittles: eat crayons of several colours and then, powered by UC, poo them onto canvas! Turner prize here I come...