My wife Struby and I are reading a fascinating book:
A General Theory of Loveby Thomas Lewis, MD; Fari Amini, MD; Richard Lannon, MDVintage Books (C) 2000
In it we learn the neurophysiological reason that properly structured support groups, such as PD SELF, are so vital for overcoming health challenges. Read on (emphasis added):
“…. One study, for instance, found that social isolation tripled the death rate following a heart attack. Another found that going to group psychotherapy doubled the postsurgical lifespan of women with breast cancer. A third noted that leukemia patients with strong social supports had two-year survival rates more than twice that of those who lacked them.
“In his fascinating book Love & Survival, Dean Ornish surveyed the medical literature on the relationship between isolation and human mortality. His conclusion: dozens of studies demonstrate that solitary people have a vastly increased rate of premature death from all causes — they are three to five times likelier to due early that people with ties to a caring spouse, family or community.
“With results like these backing the medical efficacy of mammalian congregation, you might think that treatments like group therapy after breast cancer would not be standard. Guess again. Affiliation is not a drug or an operation, and that makes it nearly invisible to Western medicine. Our doctors are not uninformed; on the contrary, most have read these studies and grant them a grudging intellectual acceptance. But they don’t believe in them; they can’t bring themselves to base treatment decisions on a rumored phantom like attachment. They prevailing medical paradigm has no capacity to incorporate the concept that a relationship is a physiologic process, as real and as potent as any pill or surgical procedure.”