Mind-body connectorRobert Ader

A psychologist, Ader spent his entire 50-year professional career teaching psychology and psychiatry — and doing research — at New York’s University of Rochester Medical Center. Ader’s research led him to invent a new field, which he called psychoneuroimmunology, or the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems. Before Ader, the human immune system was thought to be autonomous — unaffected by other body, and especially mental, processes. “As a psychologist, I was unaware that there were no connections between the brain and the immune system so I was free to consider any possibility that might explain” what he was seeing in his research, Ader said. And thus in 1975 Ader was able to prove that psychological stress had a negative effect on health, and thus psychological conditioning can improve it. It took awhile for mainstream medicine to accept the idea: as late as 1985, the New England Journal of Medicine dismissed the connection as “folklore.” But “Today there is not a physician in the country who does not accept the science Bob Ader set in motion,” said Dr. Bruce Rabin, founder of the Brain, Behavior and Immunity Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “He attracted interest in the field and made it possible to prove that ‘mind-body’ is real.” His work helps explain why placebos are effective (including in animals, not just humans!) Dr. Ader died December 20 from — apparently — the stress of fracturing a bone in a fall. He was 79.

From This is True for 1 January 2012