Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bitterness really can make you sick

Tell one person they make you sick, it's hyperbole. Tell dozens of people over time that they make you sick, and you may have a real medical argument.

Researchers from Concordia University in Montreal report that constant bitterness can lead to physical illness, affecting everything from organ function to immune response and vulnerability to disease.

The findings, which appear in the new book Embitterment: Societal, Psychological and Clinical Perspectives, shed light on the complex ways in which people's attitudes and feelings affect their health.

"Negative emotions typically have the power to influence our biology," says Carsten Wrosch, an associate professor of psychology.

"They can . . . release more cortisol into circulation, which in turn, can communicate with other body systems — the immune system, for example. And if there's immune dysregulation, such as systemic inflammation, that increases the person's likelihood of developing a host of different diseases."

Plainly, in blaming the world for your problems, you invite even more woes upon yourself.

Wrosch and his co-author, Jesse Renaud, identify failure as a major culprit behind bitterness, which sees people pointing fingers at external causes for their shortcomings rather than looking at their own actions.

"It's not only the failure; it's the way people attribute causes to the failure," explains Wrosch.

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