Getting the Most From Social Networks: Listen to this conversation with Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis on Healing Times Radio

Dr. Christakis on

Listen to the conversation at the end of this post!

I am pleased to welcome Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is an internist and social scientist who conducts research on social factors that affect health, health care, and longevity. He is Professor of Medical Sociology in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School; Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School; and Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology in the Harvard Faculty of Ar…ts and Sciences. He is the Master of Pforzheimer House in Harvard College.

Dr. Christakis’ lab is currently focused on the relationship between social networks and health. People are inter-connected, and so their health is inter-connected. This research engages two types of phenomena: the social, mathematical, and biological rules governing how social networks form (“connection”) and the biological and social implications of how they operate to influence thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (“contagion”). Other ongoing investigations in the lab consider the effects of neighborhoods on people’s health, the biodemographic determinants of longevity, the widowhood effect (“dying of a broken heart”), and the genetic bases for human behaviors.

Along with his long-time collaborator, James Fowler, Dr. Christakis has authored a general-audience book on social networks: Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, which has been translated into nearly twenty foreign languages.


LISTEN to the show

Find out at

SUBSCRIBE to Healing Times Radio Archives and don’t miss another show!

Other upcoming Dr. Miller Events

After clicking on the ‘PLAY’ button below, please be patient as the Conversation loads…

Healing Depression and PTSD: Dr. James Gordon on Healing Times Radio

Listen to this conversation at the end of this post!

Dr. Gordon is a physician who, like Dr. Miller, while in medical school, became interested in a different approach to medicine, one which honored the potential for self healing and self help in medicine. He trained in Psychiatry, then went on to found, in 1991, the Center for Mind Body Medicine. Through the center he has trained thousands of health professionals around the world to apply Deep Relaxation, Meditation, Guided Imagery, and other person-centered approaches to deal with post traumatic stress during the acute phase – in trouble spots like Kosovo and Haiti, and with traumatized US veterans.

In this show we will explore the value of imagery for adjusting autonomic responses, as well as the immune and endocrine systems, and discuss the seven phases of depression, why it is better to not think of depression as a disease, but the start of an important life journey.

Dr. Gordon will present an overview of his latest book, Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven Stage Journey Out of Depression. We will touch on the importance of deep relaxation, the value of a guide, the dark night of the soul, and the spiritual connection.

Dr. Miller will then present a brief guided imagery experience drawn from his CD program, Escape From Depression.

Check out this short video showing Dr. Gordon’s work with traumatized people in the Gaza Strip

James S. Gordon, MD, a Harvard educated psychiatrist, is a world-renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal depression, anxiety, and psychological trauma. He is the Founder and Director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, Dean of the Graduate School of Mind-Body Medicine at Saybook University, a Clinical Professor at Georgetown Medical School, and recently served as Chairman of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy.

Dr. Gordon has created ground-breaking programs of comprehensive mind-body healing for physicians, medical students and other health professionals; for people with cancer, depression and other chronic illnesses; and for traumatized children and families in Bosnia, Kosovo, Israel and Gaza as well as in post-9/11 New York and post-Katrina southern Louisiana.

His most recent book is Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven Stage Journey Out of Depression (Penguin Press).

This show will air Jan 2nd 11am-12pm (PST), 2011 and will be REBROADCAST January 10, 2011, 1-2pm at

LISTEN to the show at

Find out at

SUBSCRIBE to Healing Times Radio Archives and don’t miss another show!

Other upcoming Dr. Miller Events

CLICK on the ‘PLAY’ button below to listen to Healing Depression and PTSD!

Middle Way Health Experience a stimulating conversation between myself and Mary Claybon on her show Middle Way Health on

What is Middle Way Health?

Mary Claybon has a passion for health, healing and holistic wellness. She also has a passion for life and living it to the fullest. With over 35 years as a nurse, health educator and wellness coach, Mary offers stimulating conversation about a variety of topics that promote health to individuals, groups, and businesses . Her guests are best selling authors, speakers, and interesting people from all over the globe. Grab a cup of tea or your favorite beverage and join the conversation. Hopefully you will be a little more enlightened at the end of the show. Visit Mary’s website and sign up for her free newsletter to stay in touch.

In this show ‘Global Healing with Emmett Miller MD, Our Culture on the Couch,’ Mary and I discuss the Seven Steps to Global Healing, how to awaken the the leader within and transform our lives and our world. I hope you enjoy!


Ask Dr. Miller: Why Balance Emotions?

August 18, 2010 by EMiller
Filed under Ask Dr. Miller

Ask Dr. Miller: Dealing with Stress in the World Today

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 stress?  In this podcast I explain the difference, give examples of each and provide simple ways (affirmations) to quickly release stress and enter a relaxed state of mind, body and spirit.

This audio excerpt is from my program Stress Fitness Volume 1. Please visit my online store at for more information about this and my other audio programs.

Ask Dr. Miller: What is Presence?

Ask Dr. Miller: What is the Systems Approach?

A friend asked me the other day what I was talking about when I referred to the Systems Approach.  Well, along with a shift in perspective from the Newtonian-Cartesian viewpoint, in a Systems Approach we begin to see the many things and experiences we have as not quite so separate. We notice that there are general patterns of organization that appear again and again in our experience. The pattern of veins flowing in from the hand toward the arm very much resembles the veins on a leaf, which in turn resembles the way the tree’s roots feed into its crown.

The same pattern can also be seen when looking down from an airplane at all the tributaries to a stream or river. If you look at a diagram of the Army, showing the path that information might flow on from a private in the field to a general back at headquarters, you’d see the same pattern. In one case, the flow is through human flesh, another past plant cells in a tube made of plant cells, and another is formed by the rocky banks of streamlets, or by soldiers and their communication devices along the chain of command.

Each of these is a different system, but the branching structure reflects a single basic pattern, which appears in each of them.

When we tune in to that aspect of the world that looks at similarities, rather than at differences, we are beginning to take a “systems approach” to the world. The study of systems may be called “general systems theory.” This approach to understanding recognizes two sets of counterpoised concepts that are crucial to understanding systems, yet are seldom explored in other approaches. They are emergence and hierarchy, information and control.

Health and Peak Performance require homeostasis and balance of our inner systems.

A New Year’s Resolution Message

How To Decode Your Body’s Messages

Q: Can your health be affected by your self-image, beliefs, and expectations?

A: Absolutely! In my book, Deep Healing: The Essence of Mind/Body Medicine, he not only explains why this is true, but conversely how your body can tell you some things about your innermost feelings and thoughts you didn’t know.

Most of us know that traumatic experiences in our lives can affect our health. We have probably had the experience of getting sick to our stomachs during or after an upsetting event, or getting a bad cold or the flu following a traumatic emotional loss. But just as our minds can send out messages that have a negative impact on our bodies, the very power to do that suggests the exact opposite: that perhaps our minds can also have a positive influence on our health.

If this is true, then we need to honestly examine the beliefs and attitudes that might be affecting our health. Conversely we need to take a fearless look at our chronic health problems and see what they are telling us about ourselves. As Woody Allen said in Annie Hall,  “I don’t get angry — I grow a tumor.” Perhaps his statement was more than just humor.

Self-Survey Questions
Here are some questions that are intended as guidelines to focus your attention on issues that affect the mind-body. For optimal results, you can continue to ask them as you go about your daily life. You may find that these questions help you take charge of your health in ways you may have once thought impossible.

1.     Have you noticed if you get more colds when you are depressed, under great pressure, or are feeling angry at someone in your life?

2.    Has a physician or friend ever told you that if you don’t slow down, you’re going to have a heart attack? Has anyone recently told you to “take time to smell the roses?”

3.     How is the health of those you modeled your life upon (i.e., mother, father)?

4.     Beliefs such as your drive for success, power or recognition, guide the path of your life. Is the drive for material wealth such an overriding belief that you take no time for your family, personal recreation, or doing something really good for yourself?

5.     Do you see these kinds or correlations in others ?

6.     Do you get headaches, stomach pain, tight jaw or hold your breath when you feel tense? Do you experience these symptoms before an important meeting or before making a decision?

7.     Does your stomach or intestine cramp or act up at certain emotional times? For instance, do you experience an increase in stomach pains when faced with criticism from authority figures?

8.     Do you have loose bowels, constipation, or frequent urination at times of fear and sadness?

9.     Is there a lack of religious, ethical, or spiritual beliefs to guide you in your life and give you a sense of purpose?

10.     Do you tend to develop throat, thyroid, or respiratory problems when you are anticipating an important dialogue, or are preparing a public presentation?

11.     Do you injure your back or develop pain/spasm because of the pressure you put on yourself?

12.     Do your allergies worsen at times when you feel defensive? Or, when you are unable to express anger towards others?

13.     Do you have a skin rash or irritation that worsens when you are embarrassed or nervous or when you get too close in a relationship?

14.    Do you have asthma attacks more often when you are  feeling anxious?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you can begin to see that the relationship between the body and the mind is indeed very complex and interesting. Of course, the emotional component is only one aspect of a chronic disease. There are genetic, environmental, and nutritional aspects to each type of illness. Previous injury or infection, the use of drugs, and exposure to chemicals can determine which organs become involved, but the psychological environment sets the stage by strengthening or weakening the immune system.

Emotions & Immunity

Your immune system is responsible for the constant surveillance of your health. This amazingly complex system is able to detect the tiniest bits of foreign material or invaders that might be a threat to your health. In the case of a virus or bacterium, your immune system identifies what kinds they are and then synthesizes substances to eliminate them or render them benign. However, as a result of stress, your immune system can become overloaded and unbalanced, becoming less effective. While this explanation oversimplifies how and why the system malfunctions, it does provide us with a good picture of the process.

In many ways, the immune system is dependent on the central nervous system for its proper functioning. This is how your thoughts, feelings and beliefs play a role in your immune functions. When you experience high levels of stress, for instance, the immune system may be thrown out of balance. The study of the relationship between stress and the immune system has given rise to an entire field of medicine known as psychoneuroimmunology.

Twenty-five years ago, Miller set himself upon the daunting task of awakening the medical community to preventive healing methods which used no drugs or surgery, but which changed the immune system through directly changing the mind and its habitual pictures. By examining immune cells during a variety of mental states, the medical community has begun to see that medicine and psychology are two sides of the same coin.

The specifics of how these immune responses actually work is so complex that only a team of doctors could explain it to you in detail, but the essence of it can be boiled down into four basic types of “messages.” When the immune system overreacts it can lead to 1. allergies (external) or 2. autoimmune disease (internal). When it underreacts, it can lead to 3. repeated infection (external) or 4. to cancerous tumors (internal).

If the immune system fails to detect foreign invaders or doesn’t mount a strong enough defense against them, this is underreaction, and can lead to our getting repeated and acute and chronic infections. This helps to explain why when individuals are under severe stress, some experience increased numbers of colds, yeast infections, flare-ups of herpes, some kind of sinus infections, or other conditions caused by microorganisms. Which organs become involved depends on a variety of factors such as genetics, nutrition, exposure, drugs, chemicals, and prior injury or infection, as mentioned earlier.


When the immune system underreacts to internally generated factors, it fails to rid the body of abnormal cells and cellular waste. Often these are mutant cells that function ineffectively, and could become cancer cells if allowed to multiply. Immune cells are ordinarily capable of identifying and destroying them. When your immune system fails to identify or destroy such abnormal cells, it can lead to serious disease, such as cancer.

When the immune system overreacts to the internal environment, it can produce what we call “autoimmune” disease, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus erythematosus. A chief characteristic of most autoimmune diseases is that antibodies are produced that attack normal healthy cells. Often, these “friendly-fire” antibodies aim their attacks against specific cells — the cells lining the joints, the kidney, or blood vessels, for instance.

On the other hand, an overreaction of the immune system to external agents can lead to the development of allergic reactions. An allergic reaction happens when your immune system reacts to substances that are not a threat to your health. Histamine is produced by the healthy immune system to isolate areas of the body that have been attacked by harmful chemicals and microorganisms. It does this by creating swelling and inflammation. An overreacting immune system might produce histamine in response to a harmless substance; grass pollen, goldenrod, etc.

Q. There are so many “alternatives” in alternative health. How do I know what choices are healthy for me — what foods to eat, pills to take, books to read? WHERE DO I BEGIN?

A.  It’s an individual matter. Everyone is different. Diseases don’t make choices, people do. The primary goal of the excellent physician, healer, or health practitioner is to serve the person — to enhance, enrich and empower them by all available means. So if you are choosing a healer, find one that treats you as a patient, not a disease.

If you go to a herbalist you will get herbs; if you go to a nutritionist, a diet. The chiropractor will adjust you, and the acupuncturist will try needles. So you must be in contact with your inner wisdom, before you decide which path to take, and which advice to follow. The first step in any treatment should be to put yourself in touch with your own inner wisdom — the Wise Self, the most mature, intelligent, experienced “adult” part of you.

When this Wise Self is contacted and empowered, it can help you make such decisions very effectively. The person who drinks too much alcohol yet takes another drink, the smoker who knows that cigarettes aren’t good for her lungs but opens another pack anyway, the sedentary office-worker who is not getting a sufficient number of workout hours, the overweight person who can’t resist dessert or a second helping–each of these are situations where the ability to contact and listen to a powerful Wise Self would have enormous effects upon health, relationships, self-image, self-esteem and performance.

When temptation comes along, it is this wise part of us we want to bring into play.  It can see the temptation, measure what good or bad it would bring into our life, how it would affect those we love, how it would affect the future.  We then weigh the risks and benefits and then choose what to do.

It’s much like someone who is going to go out backpacking.  They know there is not much chance of rain, but they have to decide whether to carry the extra pounds of rainproof gear; poncho, canvas, tent, etc.  The thought of not having to lug all that along is very appealing.  But who wants to be trapped out in cold weather without rainproofing?  So, our intrepid backpacker takes rain gear.

On the other hand, when he considers whether or not to take signal flares and a ten pound emergency transmitter along, he reaches a different conclusion! This process is very similar to the one we should use when we have health choices to make. We don’t want to be reckless, but neither do we want to become hypochondriacs. The Wise Self knows where the balance point is.

Q. How do you find this balance point?

A. In my books, tapes, and lectures, I often refer to the “Serenity Prayer.” With all the technology at our disposal, this ancient prayer is still one of the greatest healing tools available. To bring balance into our life, we can ask the Wise Self to “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This serves as an invitation to the deeper mind  to open up our intuition so that we make the right choices in life, without becoming dependent on doctors, priests, or psychologists.

There are many other ways to communicate with our higher self. In Deep Healing; The Essence of Mind/Body Medicine, I emphasize three ways to do this.

1. Deep Relaxation, The Doorway to Deep Healing: First of all, deep relaxation is the simplest and fastest path through which anyone can improve their health and well-being.  It can be dramatically effective in relieving symptoms such as inflammation, anxiety, and muscle tension. It improves circulation and speeds up healing.  Through deep relaxation we can put aside the stress that blocks our link to the higher Self.

2. Positive Self-Programming:  Focused affirmations are very powerful. People have always used the power of self-talk to reinforce what they know to be true, and to get in touch with the higher self. They can counteract older, negative, or troublesome messages we may have been receiving from the world around us, or that we have been sending to ourselves and thus, out into the world around us. Our self-talk is a powerful inner mechanism through which we can make dramatic changes in our lives. It can effect every part of our being-mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. These changes put us more in synch with the higher self.

The Master Skill, Positive Mental Imagery: Imagery helps us change our situation and our habits.  When an image is held in the mind, it will tend to elicit from the nervous system reactions that are consistent with that image, and this effects all the organs of the body. By developing the skill of creating positive mental imagery (PMI), we can get an image of our higher self, and begin to journey with it in ways that work for us.

When these three are combined, it can vastly improve our ability to perform at optimal levels, even when taking on some of life’s greatest challenges. It can also awaken our conscious connection with the Wise Self, which will guide us towards the best healer or physician. But let’s not forget that the Wise Self is the most powerful healer we will ever meet.

Switch to our mobile site