The interrelationships between the behavioral, psychological, neuro-endocrinal processes and immunology is a very specialized field that has an interdisciplinary following. The field encompasses, psychologists, medical doctors and researchers, neurologists and the like. The term psycho-neuro-immunology was coined by Dr. Robert Adler, in 1975. His theory stated that our state of mind is linked to our health and our ability to heal ourselves. Reber, states that PNI it is "an interdisciplinary science that studies the interrelationships between the behavioral, psychological, neuro-endocrinal processes, and immunology." Meaning that PNI is a field of study that investigates the interaction between the nervous, the endocrine, and the immune system.
Major stressors in life influence physical health," Pennebaker (2011) "There is absolutely no doubt that having a serious upheaval in your life is associated with potentially devastating biological changes: increased cardiovascular activity, lowered immune function, an increased risk of heart attacks."
Several ways to define PNI include:
The study of the interaction of behavioral, neural, and endocrine factors and the functioning of the immune system.
The study of the integrated interactions of the immunologic, neurologic, and psychological systems and their effects on health.
The study of the effects of the mental and neurological status of the immune system.
The central nervous system, composed of the central and the peripheral nervous systems, is an array of connection which incorporates the sympathetic and the parasympathetic systems. Recent research showed that the nervous system also controls the body’s defense mechanism, known as the immune system. The evidence indicates a chemical link between our emotions and the regulatory systems of the endocrine and immune systems through the central nervous system. Modern research suggests a bi-directional loop between the brain, the organs, the stress mechanism, and the immune system. Therefore, how we feel, how we live, the stressors that accumulate affect our entire body physiology and vice-versa.
In the early years of the breast cancer and Aids crisis, researchers, clinicians, and physicians began to notice there were some people who were living much longer than the rest of the population who had these diseases at the time. Upon further investigation, it was determined that the defining variable for women with breast cancer was the involvement of support groups and a loving and supportive group of family and friends.
For men living with Aid’s, it was a similar variable. For those persons attending support groups and who reported having support from other places, the increase in longevity and strengthening of the immune system was indisputable.
From that time forward, research into this arena has been vast. Having supportive evidence of the body-mind connection has played a vital role in how western science is now viewing the human physiology. This is even more exciting because it lends support to the very concepts that eastern medicine has been based on for thousands of years.
The use of PNI in The InnerPathic Process is woven throughout the work. The Dr’s have observed that of the people they have worked with there is a strong benefit for most when they understand the process of PNI and their symptoms. Having knowledge is empowering and helps each person to no longer fall victim to what their body is doing and/or going through. There are specific ways to work within the PNI system to help the body in its healing. The InnerPathic Process makes use of these in the therapeutic relationship.
How the body responds to stress has all been defined by our environments and our responses to our environment. It was and is important that we know how to manage our environment. For our ancestors, an ability to recognize danger was paramount to physical survival, and to recognize social danger was imperative to pass on our unique genes. In this regard, our biology and brain physiology became wired to recognize danger so that surviving became more important than thriving, and so that danger; physical and social became overemphasized in our experience, particularly when there have been previous experiences of danger in our world. Once trauma has happened to a person, they have an increased sense of vulnerability in the world and develop some level of anticipation to help ward off other danger. Our brain does not differentiate between the importance of physical danger and social/emotional danger. The field of Traumatology which is a branch of Psycho-Neuro-Immunology is the field of study that examines this unique human process.
Traumatology, a direct descendant of PNI research. How the body responds to stress, whether acute or chronic directly impacts the entire PNI process. It is now believed that the Amygdala, a part of the brain anatomy that sits directly on top of the Limbic System (The Emotional Brain), holds most if not all negative experience. This part of the brain does not differentiate between emotional, physical, spiritual pain and perceives anything negative and/or hurtful, to be a trauma. This, in turn, sets up an automatic response to all immediate trauma, or anything that feels like past trauma. This cascade is a Central Nervous System response and involves the “flight or fight” response.
The use and uses of Traumatology information lends itself to many ways in helping individuals take charge of their life, understand the physiology of what is happening to them, learn to read the automatic reactions of their body, use all of this to shift from the victim of their symptoms to healing them. This is the major use of this field in The InnerPathic Process modality