The kind of blog I’d like to write.

I am tired of the lack of “civil” discourse in the country. I dislike how people can hide behind screen names and lob hate and disdain at others. I am dismayed, distressed, and tired of the behavior/notion that if someone does not agree with you they must be unpatriotic, an idiot, subhuman, lesser than thee.

There is a difference between civility and political correctness and sometimes it seems, often, people think that being civil is the same as being politically correct and therefore decide to not be civil.  Civil does not mean you agree with or condone, civil simply means you allow a person to speak their mind, to have the time and space, the opportunity, to speak their mind, the same opportunity you want. That is all. You don’t have to like, agree with, or condone what the person says, you simply have to afford them the opportunity to say it.

To me, being civil does not mean simply being nice for the sake of being nice. To me, civil is about not being overly emotional or subjective for the sake of productivity. Being civil is about treating someone the way you want to be treated. Being civil is about holding back a gut response so you can fully hear what a person is saying and, from a nuts-and-bolts perspective, ask the person the how, what, where, and when rather than the why. Civil is not about scoring points or winning the debate, civil is about having a conversation and planting seeds.

I could go on, and I probably will revisit this again, but I think you get the point.

I do not want a blog that is a “safe place” – whatever that means. I want a blog that is a thoughtful and productive place. If people are offended, they are offended. I won’t go out of my way to offend and the facts may do that because on some subjects people do not want to accept the facts, the facts, from their complete and original source (in as much as possible).

I am a hopeful-nonbelieving-dreamer-introvert. I have observed that I am atypical – a fact I do not brag about or shy away from, I simply state it.

There are many things I simply do not care about and will not be writing about. I am not into trends or pop culture all that much. I do not care about celebrities or sports.

I am intellectually curious and what the facts, from their complete and original source, not feelings, not beliefs and ideology, not raw opinion – facts, facts, facts. If you cannot do that, go elsewhere. If you do not like that, go elsewhere.

Above all else what I want is productivity, civility, and true intellectual engagement that seems to be lacking in our media at large.

My next post will be about a proposed pyschobiological study I had wanted to do while working on my Bachelor’s degree and an outline of a study that I wanted to do had I gone to Grad school. After that, I will submit the work I had done in regards to a book I had though about writing covering various philosophical questions answered from a nuts-and-bolts/scientific method point of view. I plan on also having a vlog of sorts on YouTube and will be commenting on various public policy issues and will have a series of posts about “What I would do if I was president” to try to understand and dig into things.

Mostly, I’m doing all this because I hear very little that speaks to me. Most of what I hear seems to come from a certain ideological framework and I hate ideology, I want facts. Also, when I was a bit younger I loved argumentation, debate. I loved the rhetorical back and forth, and of course I loved to win. However, as I got a bit older I saw that you can win a debate and lose people, or you can have a conversation and perhaps getting something productive done. So, I’m deciding to have a conversation.

Thanks for stoppin’ by.




Healthcare is a Necessity, not a Right, not a Privilege.

It seems to me the debate about healthcare in the U.S. is another example of ideology ruling the day rather than facts.  I do not think that healthcare is a right or a privilege – healthcare is a necessity.  If you fall down the stairs, break one of your legs, and the bone is sticking out, the last thing on your mind is going to be, “Oh, I wonder if I have a right or a privilege to go to the ER and get my leg fixed,” you need to go to the ER and get your leg fixed.  Until we talk about healthcare as a necessity, and what is the most efficient, cost effective way to make sure the most number of people get this necessity, we will not solve this problem.

Definition and Origins of Rights (a hypothesis).

Where do Rights come from?

One night, sometime around when I was 28 or so, I flipped the channel to C-SPAN and heard a Republican congressman on the House floor say that Rights come from God. I didn’t think that made sense – and not because a Republican or congressperson had said it. I thought, “That can’t be right. If Rights come from God, then why were there slaves? How is it that one man can take another man’s Rights away if they come from God? If a man can take another man’s Rights away, and Rights come from God, then that must mean that: Man is as powerful as God; Man is more powerful than God; God is uncaring; God is not all knowing; God is not all powerful; or there is no God.” It was around this same time that I heard something on that evil, Leftist, NPR station. On one of the shows they had some people (I don’t remember if they were historians or not) talking about the Constitution (it might have been around the anniversary of some amendment or important Supreme Court case). One of the individuals mentioned how Ronald Reagan had “waxed on” about the Constitution whereas Thurgood Marshall’s view was a bit different. This all got me thinking, “Where do Rights come from?” So over the next three weekends I spent some hours walking around in circles up in bedroom trying to figure it out, and this which is written, with very little modification over the years, is what I got.
To figure this out, I looked at some Rights: Right to own property, Right to free speech, Right to assemble peacefully. What is common about them? So, I came up with a scenario to find out. If someone is thrown in jail, and their Rights to speak freely, assemble, and own property are taken from them, does that mean the prisoner can no longer do these things? No. The prisoner still has the ability, physical ability, to speak freely, possibly assemble (depending on the lock-up situation), and own property (they may still have the deed to their home; the prisoner can own a pack of cigarettes). The prisoner is just denied the opportunity to do these things (at least as much as he or she had done outside of prison).
Okay, so to test this “opportunity” idea I said, “What if someone was stranded on a deserted island all by themselves. What if this person wanted to bash-in the heads of all the little critters on the island?” The person is physically able to bash the little critters’ heads in (the little critters can’t run away fast enough). No human or other thing is going to physically stop the person. So does that mean that person has the Right to bash the little critters’ heads in? Hmmm. Well, it may not be wise, as some of those critters could be a future food supply, and some as companions, and it’s not nice to bash little critters’ heads in, but does that mean the person doesn’t have the Right? I decided to shelf that scenario for a bit and try something a bit more realistic.
Let’s say there’s a little, old lady at an ATM drawing out some cash. She’s all alone. It’s in a quiet area, nobody’s around. Maybe it’s evening or night time. Some guy comes up behind her and hits her on the head and takes her money. He had the physical opportunity to rob her so does that mean he had the Right to rob her? Well of course not (at least not in our society). Who would say yes? We have laws about what you can and cannot do. Okay, but why, how? If a Right isn’t a physical opportunity to do something then what is it? Why doesn’t the mugger have the Right? So I made up another scenario about where Rights might have come from.
Way back when, when humans were still in the Stone Age or so, back before civilizations sprung up, is the time I’m looking at. There must have been Rights way back in the day before things were written down, or how else could we have gotten to where we are today? Wouldn’t there have just been total chaos? So I came up with the “Early Human Origins of Rights Hypothesis”:
Let’s say there’s a caveman (I apologize for the names and that there are no women), Bob, and he’s carved a little wooden horse. His buddy, Tom, comes along and says, “Hey, that’s a nice horse. Can I have it?” And Bob says, “No, it’s mine.” Tom says, “But I want it.” Bob says, “Too bad, you can’t have it.” So Tom takes his club and belts Bob on the head and takes the little wooden horse. So next week, Bob goes by Tom’s place. “That’s a nice wooden fish you got there, Tom,” Bob says. “Can I have it?”
“Nope that’s mine,” says Tom. So Bob raises his club to crack Tom on the head and Tom yells, “Hey, what the hell are you doing, you can’t hit me in the head just because you want my fish!”
“Why not, you did that to me last week!”
“Well that’s different!”
“Well how!” Then Jim and Earl (because of course those would be the names caveman had) come rushing over hearing all the commotion. “What’s goin’ on?” Jim asks. Tom says, “He’s gonna hit me in the head if I don’t give him my fish!” Bob replies, “Well that’s ’cause he did the same damn thing to me last week!” Tom, “Oh, yeah. If you hit me in the head this week and take my fish, I’m gonna crack you in the head when you’re sleepin’ and take all your stuff!” Earl chimes in, “Oh yeah, you do that and I’ll crack you in the head when you’re sleepin’ and take all your stuff.” Jim turns to Earl and says, “Then I’ll just do the same thing to you.” And for the next few minutes these caveman, with terribly unimaginative names, argue amongst themselves about who’s gonna hit who on the head and take whose toy. Finally, Tom, the jackass that started all this, calms down a bit and says, “You know what, this ain’t gonna work. We need some kind of arrangement or understanding. How ’bout this: if somebody makes something they get to keep it if they want to.”
“Yeah,” Bob says, “And if somebody steals from ’em, then everybody gets to crack that guy in the head.”
“Works for me,” Earl says. “Me too,” says Jim. Tom also agrees. So, what the hell does that have to do with where Rights come from? So, does this mean that Rights come from caveman “agreements”. Maybe, maybe not. Let’s just look at the scenario for a minute. The Bob-and-Tom idea about one’s possessions became agreed upon because amongst those four guys everybody had an equal say. An equal say is equal power. But does that get me any closer to the origins of Rights? What if Tom said, “Ta hell with you all,” and started cracking the other three in the head until they gave into him and he started calling the shots? Well, then the understanding would be that Tom will crack them in the head if they don’t go along with what he says – through martial power, Tom dictates the rights of the group, meaning that Tom has the power. We could apply this to a larger group. Say if a peaceful tribe of early humans got invaded and cracked in the head by a small group of mean s-o-b’s that made the peaceful ones submit to them. The mean s-o-b’s via their martial power have made the peaceful folk submit to them and yield their opportunity to do and have what they want to do or have. Or, what if there were more then the four guys, say 40 people, and they took this issue to the council or elders to decide? Then obviously those in that council/elder group get to decide what people can have and do because the elders had the power. In all these scenarios there is a thread that runs thru them – those with power decide what others can do and have. And that thing you are allowed to have or do by those in power is what we call a Right.
I didn’t really have to go back to the caveman thing to see this idea that those with power decide what the Rights are and who has them. Why doesn’t the mugger have the Right to mug the little, old lady? Because those in power – the government, (and/or society at large) says he can’t. And this government (and society at large) is more powerful then him.
So, to put it all together thus far – a Right is an opportunity to do or have something, and this opportunity is granted by those in power. What kind of opportunity? Again, not a physical opportunity but a legal and/or societal opportunity. For example: In the area I live in, until about I was somewhere in my teens, a person had the Right to burn garbage in a barrel on their property. Then, the Law changed and people did not have the Right to burn garbage in a barrel on their property. Does that mean I lost the physical opportunity to burn garbage in a barrel in my front yard? No. I can still get a barrel, some garbage, and lighter ‘er up. However, if those who write and enforce the Law find out I get a fine.
So what is the Law? It appears to me that the Law is the tool that those in power use to give order to the societies they govern, and the Law is made of two components: Rights and Rules. Rights typically tell you what you can do and/or what you can have without fear of prosecution by those in power; Rules typically tell you what you cannot do and/or what you cannot have or you may be prosecuted by those in power You could say that Rights and Rules are two sides of the same coin.
What would a “societal opportunity” be? Maybe smoking weed in a state that outlaws that. A lot of people may say it’s okay to smoke a joint, but the Law doesn’t reflect that. Another societal opportunity might be something like a Bar Mitzvah where in the Jewish community a boy is seen as a man at age 13, but outside the Jewish community the 13 year-old boy is not considered an adult until age 18.
I think though there was an easier way to figure out where Rights come from. Let me not define what a Right is, and still try to figure it out.
(little conversation with myself):
What is a Right?
A “freedom”.
What’s a “freedom”?
A “liberty”.
What’s a “liberty”?
Well it means you can do what you want; you are free from tyranny.
What is tyranny.
Tyranny is the government or some other powerful entity or person forcing you to do things you don’t want to do.
Can you do everything you want?
No, you can’t do everything you want.
Why not?
Some stuff would be stupid. Some stuff wouldn’t be safe. And there’s Laws.
Where do the Laws come from?
Well, the government makes the Laws. Which are supposed to be based on the Constitution that our Founding Fathers made.
So why did our Founding Fathers make the Constitution?
So that there would be order and people would have some basic Rights and protections under the Law.
And how did they do it?
Well they had a convention and argued and debated and amended things and voted.
Before that, what happened?
Wasn’t there a little “Revolutionary War”?
So, before the Founding Fathers could found anything, they had to not just “declare” their independence and state, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equally, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights”, they had to win, thru bloodshed the legal and/or societal opportunity to do what they wanted to do.
So they had to have the “power” to do what they wanted to do.
So, what a group of people wanted and had the power to make happen is where our Rights come from. What they had the power to make happen is why we have what we have today. See how simple that was?
I suppose I could have also looked in the dictionary to figure this out, maybe. The closest from Merriam-Webster online dictionary: Right – (noun) 2 :  something to which one has a just claim: such as a :  the power or privilege to which one is justly entitled voting rights his right to decide b (1) :  the interest that one has in a piece of property —often used in plural mineral rights (2) rights plural :  the property interest possessed under law or custom and agreement in an intangible thing especially of a literary and artistic nature film rights of the novel
3 :  something that one may properly claim as due knowing the truth is her right
The problem with those definitions is the idea of a right being a “Claim”. So what is a Claim? From Merriam-Webster: 1 :  a demand for something due or believed to be due an insurance claim
2a :  a right to something; specifically :  a title to a debt, privilege, or other thing in the possession of another The bank has a claim on their house.b :  an assertion open to challenge a claim of authenticity advertisers’ extravagant claims
Basically, Claim, Right, Liberty, and Freedom seem to all get interchanged and we don’t actually every really seem to clearly define any of them without using one of the other terms in the definition.
You know, I think it struck me at the time I began this inquiry (again about 28 years old) that I, and seemingly most people, just use the word Right and never really defined it, never stopped to define it. We all just seemed, and still seem, to take it’s meaning for granted and/or that we all have the same definition. We just use the word and never really look into it.
Let’s return for a moment to our friend on the deserted island with the little critters. Does he have the Right to bash their heads in if he wanted to? So long as the island is not in the jurisdiction of any one nation or international body that has laws prohibiting the smashing-in of little critters’ heads, yes, he does. Why? Because he’s the society, the law, and he has the power. I’m not saying that what he’s doing is moral or humane, only that by the definition of what a Right is, he can do on that island what he wants to those little critters’ heads. Obviously, Rights and who has them, and who gives them out, differs from society-to-society, and the fact remains the same – Rights are legal and/or societal opportunities to do or have something, these opportunities granted by those in power.
Let’s also spend a few minutes discussing the belief(s) that Rights are God-given, natural and/or innate. I’ve heard someone say that Rights are God-given/natural/innate it’s just that Group A did not recognize the Rights of Group B (both groups are human). This leads to the question, how did Group A not recognize the Rights of Group B? Was it because Group A did not want to allow Group B to have or do something? Was it because Group A thought Group B was less than they? Was Group A somehow intellectually incapable of recognizing the rights of Group B? Looking throughout history, I think the usual answer is that Group A had more power of some kind (economic, martial, social, political, or some combination thereof) than Group B. And things only changed when Group B had enough power to cause Group A to reconsider it’s position and/or Group B became more powerful than Group A and could not dictate to Group A new terms of their relationship.
What makes us think that Rights are God-given, natural and/or innate? Besides the Declaration of Independence (which was a list of grievances)? Because we are told Rights are God-given, natural and/or innate – we’ve been told that all our lives and we have believed it all our lives. We believe it because we want it to be so. We need it to be so. Because we want to be able to shake our fists at some s-o-b politician we think is screwing us over and shout at ’em, “Who the hell are you? You can’t take my Rights from me – they’re God-given!” It makes us feel good. We think that Rights are built into being human, natural, innate. They’re just there. But Rights aren’t golden orbs that live inside us. There is no “Rights Gland”, or “Rights Organ”. When it comes to the idea that Rights are natural, or there are “Natural Rights of humans” it makes it sound like there is some golden-lit thing waiting for us out in some beautiful, primordial forest, or the light itself will bestow us Rights if we just stand in it long enough. We may want something, and justify the want of it by saying it’s a Right. Or we may need something and justify trying to get it by saying its’ a Right. We may feel that as humans, being sentient/aware of ourselves, they we have certain Rights. By virtue of being human I have Rights? Prove it. Where is the evidence? And again, what is your definition of Rights? When I hear people use the term Rights it almost sounds as though they’re talking about something you can hold in your hand, but you can’t. If Rights are not God-given, natural and/or innate, then what?
There is a practical implication to all this. If Rights are not God-given and/or natural/innate as many people want them/need them/believe them to be, what does that mean? It means, as human history shows, that those in power can take your Rights away or water them down to the point of uselessness because a Right: is (1) a legal and/or societal opportunity to do or have something, this opportunity granted by those in power; (2) an opportunity to do or have something without fear of prosecution by those in power. What this all means, keeping the history of slavery, revolutions, and civil rights movements in mind, is that we, especially those of us living in democratic societies, must always keep an eye on those in power because it is far easier for Rights to be taken away then given. We can believe whatever want to believe about Rights. Unfortunately, belief (or need or want) does not guarantee that your Rights will not be infringed upon or taken from you. There does not seem to be a direct proportion between one’s belief that they have Rights and if they actually do. The only thing that makes Rights real is power, and again, this is why we must always keep an eye on those with power.

Now, maybe after all of this you still think that Rights are God-given and/or natural/innate. Okay. So let me ask you this, Do you think you have a God-given and/or natural right to any of the following:
Buy a six pack of beer from a grocery store on a Sunday?
Own a fully operational, fully armed, Blackhawk helicopter?
Drive 22 and a half miles thru a school zone Monday thru Friday, 6 AM to 6 PM?
Drive 56 mph in a 55 mph speed zone?
Paint your house whatever color you want?
Buy cigarettes when you’re 17?
Sell one of your kidneys or other internal organ or organs?
If you live in the suburbs or city, keep a cow in your backyard?
Have a beer at the pizza place when you’re 18?
Store nuclear waste in you backyard?
Turn your basement into a casino for the public?
Kick someone out of your store/place of business because they have green eyes?
If you’re a woman, wear pants?
Wear you’re hair, if you have any, any way you like?

Thank you for your time and be well,

Definition of Treason

If the following is not treason than what is it:

A citizen of the home country who meets with/works with agents of a foreign power (hostile to the home country or not) for the express purpose of undermining the overall stability of the home country or some specific process of the home country.

Proposed Psychobiological Studies

Below you will find a proposed/hypothetical pyschobiological study I had written for a psych class, and was a study that I actually wanted to do while working on my bachelor’s in psychology.  Unfortunately, in the little area I live in, no medical clinicians were interested.  The short of the study is to have postoperative orthopedic patients use guided imagery of some type of exercise to reduce their pain.  I came up with the idea for this study after having found that stress headaches I had went away not only after performing exercise but interestingly enough after thinking about doing specific exercises (I had studied/practiced meditation and hypnosis and observed that what the mind says the body to some extent or another will do).  Had I gone to graduate school for psychology the study I had hoped to do would have sought to find out if one can use guided exercise imagery to coax the body into making telomerase and extra mitochondria in the cells akin to what actual exercise does.  This of course being useful for increasing longevity and immune system function.  That grad school study would have been an offshoot of the one below with the following important changes:

Measure for levels of telomerase and mitochondria in the subjects pre and post treatment/guided exercise imagery.

Based on the literature, determine to what intensity level individual exercise sessions must be performed, how long individual exercise sessions must be performed, and over what span of time (days, weeks, months) and frequency within a given span of time individual exercise sessions must be performed before there is a significant increase in both telomerase and mitochondrial levels.  Once this information is gathered, word the guided imagery script accordingly.

If anyone is interested in pursuing either or both of these proposed studies you have my permission.  I only ask that you give credit where credit is due and list me as a coauthor of the study(ies).

Be Well,



Imagery, Exercise, and Pain Modulation Effects and Relationships:

William Igel

SUNY Oneonta, State University of New York

Imagery, Exercise, and Pain Modulation Effects and Relationships

Can thinking about exercise reduce pain? It is a fairly simple question, but one with great possibilities. This proposed study seeks to understand the potential mechanisms behind this process and its potential efficacy. It is well known that emotional and/or psychological stress can have ill effects on the body. This stress can range from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to the stress of everyday modern life, and the ill effects can range from slightly elevated high blood pressure and decreased digestive system function to stroke or heart attack. It is also well established that various emotional and/or psychological stressors can be managed by changing how and what one thinks. This changing of how and what one thinks can also be effective for alleviating physical pain.

There are many different mental techniques one could use to alleviate pain, although the differences appear to be a matter of semantics. One could do meditation, visualization, guided imagery, hypnosis, but for all intents and purposes at their core what matters is how and what one is thinking about, or as Hart (2008) puts it in regards to guided imagery “using the imagination”. To help sort out the differences between two of the techniques used in the cited studies (hypnosis versus guided imagery), clarification comes from a study by Jensen et al. (2012) where it is stated that the difference between mental imagery and hypnosis is that mental imagery lacks the induction phase (relaxing phase) that is used in hypnosis before a “suggestion” is given, and the induction phase itself plays no role in pain reduction. Therefore, it seems that the terms “suggestion”, “guided imagery”, and “mental imagery” can be interchanged with one another. For this proposed study these terms will be defined as what a person is thinking about and to some extent or another is experiencing within their mind as though these experiences were really happening – tastes, smells, touch, temperature, pressure, etc. As it turns out, what people experience in their minds using these various techniques does have a direct impact on their perception of pain.

In a general review of guided imagery and its effects by Hart (2008), individuals in two separate studies – postoperative colorectal surgery patients, and those afflicted with interstitial cystitis, both used guided imagery techniques to decrease pain. Guided imagery recordings (audio tape and CD) were also used to help reduce pain for children post-surgery (Pölkki et al., 2006) and for post-operative seniors (Antall & Kresevic, 2004). Guided or not, a study by Younger, Aron, Parke, Chatterjee, and Mackey (2010) demonstrates that simply thinking about one’s loved ones can also reduce pain. These types of studies involving imagery go on and on. Needless to say, changing what one thinks about can change one’s perception of pain.

Actual physical exercise can also change one’s perception of pain. Naugle, Fillingim, and Riley (2012), looked at three different types of exercise: isometric, aerobic, and dynamic resistance exercises and found that all three reduced the “perception of experimentally induced pain in healthy participants.” This happens, according to Njis, Kosek, Van Oosterwijck, and Meeus (2012), because exercise increases an individual’s pain threshold by turning on “descending nociceptive inhibitory mechanisms”, and releasing neurotransmitters like endorphins (of the beta variety) which activate opioid receptors that cause pain reduction. Along with the release of specific neurotransmitters, from a study by Sheef et al. (2012) the use of fMRI techniques has found the following areas of the brain that correspond to pain reduction are also affected by exercise (running): the periaqueductal gray (PAG), middle insular cortex, and pregenaual anterior cingulate cortex.

Interestingly, hypnosis also affects some of the same and neighboring brain regions as exercise in regards to pain reduction, such as the right posterior insula cortex (Abrahamsen et al., 2010) and the anterior cingulate cortex (Knudsen et al., 2011). Furthermore, for the purpose of this proposed investigation, there is evidence that simply thinking about exercise can actually cause a physiological response.

In a study from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Vinoth, Vlodek, Jing, Vinod, and Guang (n.d), found that participants in either of the mental practice groups (contracting one’s fifth finger; flexing one’s elbow) had increased their strength over a twelve-week period, as well as increases in cortical activity that itself caused the increases in strength. Gallego, Denot-Ledunois, Vardon, and Perruchet (1996) reported an increase of approximately 32% in average breaths per minute for 29 athletes that imagined themselves in a past sporting event. Erlacher and Schredl (2008) found increases in heart rates when lucid dream participants imagined doing squats (while lucid dreaming), and another study by Erlacher and Schredl (2010) found that lucid dream participants were able to increase their actual performance of tossing a coin into a cup by practicing the task while dreaming. Some of the results from these studies are reasonable to expect, some are simply interesting. However, for this proposal, the most useful findings come from a study that had results that one could reasonably expect and were interesting.

In a study by Cobb, Ripley, and Jones (1973) looking at physiological effects of hypnotic suggestion versus pharmaceuticals, they found a seemingly novel effect of the mind-body connection. Their study consisted of six medical students between the ages of 23 to 26, all of whom had some previous experience with hypnosis. The week before the experiment the participants were tested doing strenuous exercise on a bike ergometer. The day of the experiment the first 45 minutes was used as a period of quiet relaxation, then the hypnotic induction was given with 10 minutes more of relaxation suggestions. Next came 20 minutes of suggestions of bicycle exercise with increasing intensity, another 10 minutes of relaxation suggestions, followed by 15- 25 minutes of the reliving of a life event that could call up feelings of anxiety, anger, depression, or frustration. A final short relaxation period was given, then the hypnotic session was ended. In another session, this series of events was repeated, but with the administration of sodium amytal to cause relaxation and peaceful feelings. Nethalide (used to impede free fatty acid levels) was given to three of the participants in another session of hypnosis. The researchers found that using hypnosis with the exercise suggestion caused an increase in free fatty acid mobilization/arterial concentration in all six participants, and all six participants experienced some level of negative feelings from the reliving of a past troubling event.

Guided imagery can reduce pain. Exercise can reduce pain. Guided imagery can affect the anterior cingulate cortex. Exercise can affect the anterior cingulate cortex. Exercise imagery can produce physiological responses akin to what actual exercise produces. Therefore, it seems reasonable that guided exercise imagery may also reduce pain. If this is the case, then for later analysis to determine the physiological mechanisms causing this reduction in pain (which may or may not be those that actual exercise induces) these three areas should be looked at: the release of neurotransmitters that reduce pain; a decrease in those neurotransmitters that increase pain; activity level of those areas of the brain that may contribute to overall pain reduction.

Can thinking about exercise reduce pain? This question has significant potential utility. If this hypothesis is valid, a person, anywhere, for free, could simply think about exercising and any pain they have could be reduced. No pills, no copays, no side effects short-term or long, no interactions with any other medications. However, this leads to a final question to consider – why think about exercise to reduce pain when there are other imagery techniques to use? A valid question with a simple answer – different individuals will find some techniques more acceptable than others, both logically and emotionally/ideologically. Some individuals may find guided imagery too fanciful. Depending on one’s religious background, meditation and hypnosis may have connotations that are in conflict with one’s beliefs. But exercise is utilitarian, and therefore not fanciful, or having conflicting metaphysical ideas within it. This hypothesis of thinking about exercise to reduce pain may simply add another tool to the toolbox that an individual can use to potentially make their life a little bit easier.

A final caveat which goes to the design of this study is if an individual exercises on a regular basis (at least twice a week, a half hour per session) or not. As mentioned from the previous studies, exercise in and of itself is enough to cause a reduction in pain. To be on the conservative side, the hypothesis for this proposed study is that those individuals who do exercise on a regular basis will derive a greater reduction in pain from the use of exercise-related imagery than those individuals that do not exercise on a regular basis. The rationale being that those who do exercise on a regular basis have experienced positive physical and emotional feelings from exercise, so there may already be an established expectation that some positive will come from exercise, or exercise-related activities.



The study (ideally) consisted of at least 40, post-operative orthopedic patients (20 women, 20 men) from A.O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta, NY that had undergone various joint surgeries (hip, knee, elbow, and shoulder). The median age of the participants was 51.5, with the youngest being 18, the oldest being 84. Participants that did some formal exercise for at least a half hour per session, two days a week, were assigned to the “Exerciser” group versus a “NonExerciser” group.


Prior to the start of the experimental treatment a self-report questionnaire regarding the following information was collected: current and past activities – profession and hours of work, physical activities outside of work, history of exercise, involvement in sports; medical history – current state of health, past injuries/accidents, experiences dealing with pain, current pain level, physical therapy use, use of alternative practices (meditation, hypnosis, reiki, “other”); general sleep habits. To quantify pain levels a 7-point Likert scale was used: 1 as the least painful anchor; 7 as the most painful anchor; this numerical scale corresponding to a Visual Analog Scale – happy to progressively unhappy faces (modified from the 10-point VAS from the study by Antall & Kresevic, 2004). A mp3 recording (or other available audio format) for the imagery condition was created using a local voice-over actor to create a scene in which the participant was exercising on a bike ergometer in the participant’s physical therapist’s office. The suggestions start the participant exercising at a comfortable pace, then slowly increase the pace over a fifteen-minute period, prompting the participant to pedal as fast as they comfortably can. The suggestions allow the participant to include the physical therapist in the imagery, as well as a clock or timer, a mirrored wall or windows so the participant can see themselves exercising on the bike, general background noises (phone ringing, cars going by outside), and the physical sensations of exercising on the bike (warming up, muscle ache, breathing faster, faster heart beat, perspiration, etc). A self-report log was given to the participants to track their use of the mp3 recordings and before-and-after mp3 pain levels (if applicable) sleep habits, activity levels, use of pain meds, pain levels before and after physical therapy and/or exercise. A post hoc self-report survey of chronic pain experiences was also issued. The participants were compensated via parking vouchers for visits to their medical provider/researcher dealing directly with this study; compensated at the rate of $10 per hour for their initial 30 minute orientation to the study, follow-up meetings specific to the study, and debriefing meeting (if opted for a meeting); $50 stipend for data entry in their logs.


After the initial self-reports had been submitted by the participants and they had been assigned to either the Exerciser or NonExerciser groups, participants spent 30 minutes with the researcher, nurse, or healthcare staff to have any questions answered and to begin the use and self-reporting of pain levels and other data in their logs. Using random assignment half of the Exerciser and NonExerciser groups (n = 10) were given the mp3 recording of guided exercise imagery (as an addition to their standard care regimens); the other half of the Exerciser and NonExerciser groups received the standard care regimens only – NonImagery Group. The Imagery Group was to record pain levels before and after the use of the mp3, before and after any physical therapy, as well as using this period to make note of any changes in sleep, appetite/diet, pain medicine use, or other information they wished to make note of. The NonImagery group made the same entries, of course with the exception of before and after mp3 session pain levels. At the conclusion of this four-week study the self-report logs were collected and a self-report questionnaire dealing with the presence or absence of chronic pain and its levels were given to the participants as a post hoc measure. The participants were also debriefed to the true goal of the study and it’s findings reported to them within two weeks of the conclusion of the study.


*note: all results and findings are hypothetical

Analyzed effects of activity and imagery presentation using a two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) found the following (see also Figure 1): main effect for activity was significant, F (1, 36) = 17.45, p < .05, with Exercisers (M = 2.5, SD = 1.8) achieving lower pain rating than NonExercisers (M = 5.125, SD = 2.1); there was also a significant main effect for imagery presentation, F (1, 36) = 16.81, p < .05, with Imagery (M = 3.25, SD = 1.1) achieving lower pain rating than NonImagery (M = 3.75, SD = .86). An interaction between activity and imagery presentation was also significant, F (1, 36) = 25.76, p < .05, with participants in the Exerciser/Imagery condition having the lowest overall pain ratings. A post hoc analysis dealing with suffers of chronic pain found there was a significantly higher rating of pain for participants in the NonExerciser/Imagery condition (M = 5.75, SD = 1.05) versus those participants in Exerciser/Imagery condition (M = 1.2, SD = .97).


The purpose of this study was to examine the potential effect of exercise imagery to reduce pain in post-operative orthopedic patients. The specific hypothesis that those who exercise on a regular basis and used the guided exercise imagery would have lower pain ratings than NonExercisers in both experimental and nonexperimental conditions, as well as Exercisers in the nonexperimental condition, was confirmed by this study. An additional finding from this study was that participants in the NonExerciser/Imagery condition reported the highest pain ratings of any group. One possible explanation stemming from the comments found in the participant logs is that they found the imagery of exercising on the bike ergometer to be boring, monotonous, and laborious. Other comments included how they did not like exercise in general, and having to think about exercise put them in a negative frame of mind. A few participants had not exercised since high school, and this imagery brought up being in gym class and some negative thoughts associated specifically with gym class, and some general negative thoughts about that stage of their lives. Another interesting result from the study was that those in the Exerciser/Imagery condition that were chronic pain suffers reported the lowest ratings for pain. From their logs, we find that the exercise imagery both reminded them of something they liked to do, and helped to remind them that they would be returning to their normal, active lives. Here, we have the reverse of the NonExerciser/Imagery participants, and see that in both conditions emotional frame of mind stimulated by the imagery had some influence on the perception of pain. In a future study, it may be advisable to tailor the imagery to some type of physical activity along a recreational route that the participant enjoys, so long as there is some component of steady physical exertion (e.g. hiking, canoeing, biking outdoors, kicking the ball around with the kids). Also, it may be useful for further comparative purposes to have a “placebo”, such as a guided imagery trip used in the studies cited by Antall & Kresevic (2004), Hart (2008), and Pölkki et al. (2006).

One of many concerns for the actual implementation of this proposed study is the potential harm that could come from the physiological responses to the exercise imagery and here we have some conflicting information. In the study by Cobb et al. (1973), three of the six participants experienced increased heart rates by 19-40 beats per minute, obviously meaning that there was increased blood flow through the body during the imagery session. However, in a study by Wuyam et al. (1995) looking at the cardiovascular response of participants to imagined exercise on a treadmill, non-athlete participants showed no significant changes in breathing patterns, nor was there any significance in heart rate changes for athletes or non-athletes from control activities to imagined exercise. With this in mind, to be on the conservative side, exercise imagery sessions may need to be postponed until such a time as the participant, under their doctor’s orders, would be allowed to do physical therapy and resume somewhat modest exercise/activity levels. This of course means that implementation of exercise imagery sessions must be tailored to an individual’s medical progression timeline, rather than set as an across the board, arbitrary measure.

A final point to consider is an individual’s expectations of any therapy and how those expectations effect outcomes. In a review by Bowering et al. (2013) of studies dealing with the efficacy of the Graded Motor Imagery method for treating chronic pain, the Motor Imagery component (thinking about moving a specific body part suffering with chronic pain) may have no affect on the lessening of pain, and in some studies actually increased pain. The authors of this metastudy did not posit any reason why this was the case. However, from gleaning through this proposed study’s participants’ logs one reasonable explanation is simply that there was the expectation of pain linked to use, even imagined use, of the bike ergometer. Some participants thought that they should have more time to heal and/or were afraid that the peddling would make things worse, which included increased pain, as well as slowing down the healing process, and/or doing further damage to their post-op bodies. More of these negative expectations were seen in the NonExerciser group than the Exerciser group. With all this in mind, it may be advisable that the imagery of the physical activity/exercise/sport be of something that does not primarily engage the afflicted body part, or engage it in a way that the participant (having been asked about their expectations) does not expect any negative outcome from this activity.

Although this study did find evidence to support the efficacy of guided exercise imagery to reduce pain, and some evidence that individuals who exercise on a regular basis and use exercise imagery will have the least pain, this study did not test for the underlying physiological mechanisms that caused said reductions. Further investigation is needed, specifically looking at the saliva/blood chemistry pre and post guided exercise imagery sessions, as well as neuroimaging to determine if those regions of the brain that guided imagery and exercise affect to modulate pain (Abrahamsen et al., 2010; Knudsen et al., 2011; Njis et al., 2012; Sheef et al., 2012) are being activated during these sessions.


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Figure Caption

Figure 1. Mean ratings of pain for Exerciser and NonExerciser participants for each condition (Imagery, NonImagery).