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What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set?
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times


New York Times, October 22, 2014
Posted: November 28th, 2016
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/magazine/what-if-age-is-no...

[Psychologist Ellen] Langer gave houseplants to two groups of nursing-home residents. She told one group that they were responsible for keeping the plant alive and that they could also make choices about their schedules. She told the other group that the staff would care for the plants, and they were not given any choice in their schedules. Eighteen months later, twice as many subjects in the plant-caring, decision-making group were still alive than in the control group. To Langer, this was evidence that the biomedical model of the day ... was wrongheaded. She came to think that what people needed to heal themselves was a psychological prime - something that triggered the body to take curative measures all by itself. Gathering [a group of] older men together in New Hampshire [in 1981] for what she would later refer to as a counterclockwise study would be a way to test this premise. The men in the experimental group were told ... to attempt to be the person they were 22 years ago. At the end of their stay, the men were tested, [and] outperformed a control group. They ... showed greater manual dexterity and sat taller. Their sight improved. The experimental subjects, Langer told me, had put their mind in an earlier time, and their bodies went along for the ride. Traditionally minded health researchers acknowledge the role of placebo effects and account for them in their experiments. But Langer goes well beyond that. She thinks ... that in many cases they may actually be the main factor producing the results.

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