xin (heart & mind)

The Mandarin word for heart and mind, “Xin”

I was really intrigued when I saw this blog post on chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is not all in the mind . It reminded me of the great pianist and improviser Keith Jarrett, who suffered CFS for a whole year. He couldn’t play, he couldn’t get out of his room.

The researchers found that there was abnormal gut bacterial micro biome, leading to gastrointestinal and inflammatory symptoms.

This hints at the potential of uses dietary modifications and pre-biotics and probiotics intervention. (see previous post on Is Your Gut the Second Brain?)

But I worry about people making a wrong conclusion. “If studies are showing physical symptoms, then it is the CAUSE of the problem.” “If brain scans shows abnormality for a depressed person, therefore, it is the CAUSE of major depression.”

Cognitive scientists and social psychologists calls this the attribution error . In other words, we make the mistake of thinking reducing something as a the cause.  Statisticians like to say, “Correlation does not mean Causation.”

Such reductionistic thinking is everywhere. Take the following story:

“A man was lying injured on a couch with his legs in a cast.
He says to wife, “ You know, you were there yesterday when i fell off the roof. 
You were there when i had the car accident…
You were there when I injured my back while lifting the heavy object…
Now that I think of it, you are BAD LUCK.”

The current study about CFS is a useful example. If you dig into the original article, researchers state, “The cause of ME/CFS is unknown, but gut dysbiosis could be contributing to some of the symptoms and their severity.” There were astute enough not to make an attribution error.

Learn to Listen to Our Body

Keith Jarrett came out of the shadows of CFS, and these were the first piece that he played, “I love you porgy.” Take a listen:

It’s mind over matter, only when the matter doesn’t mind.

The thing is, the mind and matter work as one.  I think it’s useful to borrow from my  Chinese culture, as we call mind and heart as “xin” There is no differentiation. (see image above)

Perhaps our minds are there to take care of both mind and heart.

Related article:

The Music of our Emotions: Why it is Important to Listen 

Is Your Gut the Second Brain?


Daryl Chow, Ph.D.