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Hafner Mateja, Ihan Alojz:
PREBUJANJE: Psiha v iskanju izgubljenega Erosa – psihonevroimunologija

AWAKENING: Psychoneuroimmunology - The Reality of Consciousness

The trailer of the Revised English Edition of the book:

Psychoneuroimmunology - The Reality of Consciousness

Mateja Hafner


With special thanks to

Peter Russell 


Crisis or challenge!

When I look back on those years, I wonder almost every day. Is it worth it? All those clinical hours I spent at the office after work and on weekends for paperwork required by the protocol. I do not feel comfortable with the protocol, which has no purpose by itself, but I do accept the necessity and complexity of the system, if it allows security and justice. Especially, because the lack of system security, justice and stability represents a major problem for psychosomatic patients. Without professional help, it often prevents them from stepping onto a path towards health improvement. These are my passing thoughts when I am aware of the roles we play in life, and at the same time I wish to derive a strategy we set up at Institute for Preventive Medicine for treatment of psychosomatic diseases.

I must thank my parents, Peter and Marija Hafner, colleagues, reviewers and all of my friends. Everyone gave their best, even more than necessary. Why? Because they are fully committed to the objective and are aware that they have to remain true to themselves. They truly are exceptional people to walk the chosen path with. Only then we have what we desire. It requires honesty and it is the most we can do for each other. How others see us, is their choice. The basis of human dignity is distinguishing between naïve child’s behavior and spontaneous and devotional help to fellow human beings, and being able to notice people in distress. In this our boundaries are highly divided, and the question arises where the limits are? And whether they are allowed to be crossed? And when they should be crossed? Usually people themselves determine these limits with their behavior. And we have no choice. We have to take them into account, because otherwise there is no mutual agreement, which is also part of the basic human communication, crucial for goal settings.

Setting goals, both personal and professional, is something we can do to realize our childhood longings and dreams, and revive them in everyday social events. Only then we will not suffer from many problems of modern times, for which medicine alone does not have the answers, and we are not equipped with the skills to be able to cope with them.

As a young female doctor, I always saw psychology as a rather subjective science, so I gave it further attention later in my educational process. The longer I am working and living as a medical doctor, the more objective psychology seems to be, because it has exactly predictable consequences that are natural, such as the fact that the spring is followed by summer, not winter. How it is possible that something so natural and spontaneous has no proper place in science, we call medicine? Perhaps because psychology focuses mainly on our thoughts, emotions and feelings, and lacks of what is following - a life practice, learning and learned behavior, fortified behavior, stress, harmful psychosocial circumstances - without a thorough interference in the patient’s lifestyle - of course along with him – cannot bring change for the better.

Therefore, in medicine we are, in spite of newer and newer findings of "pure psychology", constantly flooded with an increasing number of chronic diseases. The predictions of the World Health Organization are not exactly encouraging and following their guidelines, health problems cannot be solved solely by medication alone. How it is possible that this is all so present and at the same time so hidden in our daily life? 

When pure science with its medical, pharmacological, psychological and social knowledge and awareness-raising regarding healthy lifestyle is totally useless, it is necessary we apply this knowledge to specific individual in the learning - educational - preventive - medical process of psychoneuroimmunology. This cannot be replaced by any distant, abstract system of rules, insights, commandments and prohibitions. For achieving some of the goals - particularly to change person’s lifestyle – only acknowledging individual's  needs is effective in a long-term. Otherwise, it is not likely! And only by working together we can keep the direction. The direction keeps the awareness, but this occurs only in the interaction among people. About this I am deeply convinced! 

 – Mateja Hafner, M.D.


1. Neurology and Immunology
PD Dr. Aye Mu Myint, M.D., PhD, Dr.Phil.Habil.
(Chapters: 6 Stress response, 7 Stress and Psychoneuroimmunology,10 Oxidative stress) 

2. Cellular and molecular biology
Prof. Jasna Štrus, B.F., Ph.D.
(Chapters: 10 Oxidative stress; 11 The biology of perception and psychoneuroimmunology; 21 Food as a modulator of genes and epigenetic variation) 

3. Psychology
Marija Hafner, Ph.D.
(Chapters: 12 Personality, ego, consciousness; 13 Major chronic pressures that cause health problems; 15 The skill of all skills - communication; 17 The psychology of change) 

4. Cardiology
Prof. Irena Keber, M.D., Ph.D.
(Chapters: 18 Life is the rhythm of movement; 22 Metabolic cardiology)

5. Neurophysiology

Prof. Simon Podnar, M.D., Ph.D.
(Chapter: 16 Godlike transformation of this world)


Crisis or challenge!
1. Introduction
2. Health issues
3. The human body
3.1 Health problems resulting from chronic (over)load
3.2 Chronic agitation – important link between external influences and overload of human body functions and organs
3.2.1 Burdens of modern – total society
3.2.2 Some of the loads fluctuate the body response above the level of automatic recovery
3.2.3 Life and tension
4. Science, human and society
5. Psychoneuroimmunology
6. Stress response
6.1 Types of stress response
6.1.1 Sympatho-adrenal response
6.1.2 Cortisol response
6.1.3 Cytokine response Cytokines and inflammatory proteins Cytokine impact on behavior and other impacts
6.2 Acute and chronic stress
6.2.1 Hypercortisolemia
6.2.2 Hypocortisolemia
6.3 Abstinence reaction due to the termination of chronic stress
6.4 Methods of assessing changes in immune status due to stress
6.5 Identifying signs of stress response
6.6 Positive and negative stress
6.7 Factors affecting the development and intensity of stress
6.8 Stress consequences in behavior
6.9 Causes of chronic agitation
7. Stress and psychoneuroimmunology
7.1 Type D personality
7.1.1 The health risks linked to type D personality
7.1.2 Biological pathways that are associated with type D personality
7.1.3 The clinical significance of type D personality
7.2 Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) and type D personality
7.2.1 HPA axis activation, pro-inflammatory cytokines and allergies
7.2.2 HPA axis response to stressors, chronic stress and pain
7.2.3 Obesity, vegetative and cytokine response
7.3 Neurological balance and psychoneuroimmunology
8. Psychosomatic diseases
8.1 Pain and stress
8.2 Stress, depression and anxiety
8.3 Panic attacks
8.4 Post-traumatic stress disorder
8.5 Chronic pelvic pain syndrome with erectile or sexual dysfunction and interstitial cystitis
8.6 Treatment of psychosomatic diseases and health resilience
8.6.1 Homeostatic (health) balance
8.6.2 Physiological indicators of reduced health resilience
8.6.3 Psychosocial capacity
8.6.4 Chronic stress leads to anxiety and that to pain
8.6.5 Psychosomatic diseases as functional disorders
8.6.6 Functional disorder does not mean that everything is in your head
8.6.7 People with functional disorders have often more than one
8.6.8 The concept of threshold and functional disorders
8.6.9 Anxiety exacerbate symptomatic picture
9. Physiological measurements of stress response
9.1 Resting heart rate
9.2 Heart rate variability
9.3 Plasma concentrations of hormone cortisol
9.4 Plasma concentrations of DHEA
9.5 Plasma concentrations of testosterone and estrogene
9.6 Decrease of blood plasma concentrations of proteins
9.7 Immunological function decline
9.8 Changed parameters in chronic stress
10. Oxidative stress
10.1 The strongest antioxidant myth
10.2 Immune system boosting elixir
11. The biology of perception and psychoneuroimmunology
12. Personality, ego, consciousness
12.1 Some personality traits in difficult living conditions markedly hinder people to deal with "everyday" life challenges
12.2 Open system, analysis and psychosynthesis
12.3 Conscious and unconscious parts of the personality
12.4 Natural Mind and Ego Mind
13. Major chronic pressures that cause health problems
13.1 Stress and the price of fear
13.2 Rational thinking
13.3 Stress and thought process
13.4 Needs and stress programs
13.4.1 Analysis of unconstructive stress programs
13.4.2 Goal setting with SMART method
13.4.3 Human body and its needs
13.5 Revitalize ourselves
14. Relationships, sexuality, eroticism, society
14.1 Sexuality – let hell be heaven
14.2 Male and female principle
14.3 Love relationships and unconsciousness
14.4 Delusions of feminism and chauvinism
14.5 Aging and stress
14.6 Delusions of cultural and economic development
15. The skill of all skills – communication
15.1 Communication table
15.2 Beliefs
15.3 Extortion
15.4 Structure and resolution of conflicts
16. Godlike transformation of this world
17. The psychology of change
17.1 Each has its fortune
17.2 Ten antistress commandments
18. Life is in the rhythm of movement
18.1 Minute movement intervals can improve our health
18.2 High-intensity training and professional sport
18.3 Exercise as immunotherapy
18.3.1 The immune system in intensive physical strain
18.3.2 The benefits of regular and moderate exercise on the immune system
18.4 Exercise as a neuro and cardio therapy
18.4.1 Autonomic imbalance and physical response
18.4.2 The use of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) in movement
19. Energy medicine
19.1 Energetics
19.2 Energy cycle of hormones
20. Common sense comes from abdomen
21. Food as a modulator of genes and epigenetic variation
21.1 Effects of food on epigenetic variation
21.1.1 Folate and folic acid
21.1.2 Choline
21.1.3 Betaine
21.1.4 Vitamin B12
21.1.5 Vitamin B6
21.1.6 Methionine
21.2 Epigenetic variation and obesity
21.2.1 The environmental stimulus
21.2.2 Genetic imprinting
21.2.3 The energy balance of metabolism
21.2.4 Environmental protection
22. Metabolic cardiology
23. Normality, priorities and balance
24. IPM treatment program
24.1 The objectives of the IPM program
24.2 Description of some activities
24.2.1 PEP testing for analysis of stress unconstructive programs
24.2.2 Measurement of physical performance Determination of physical performance The training potential with maximal oxygen consumption – VO2 max Lactate threshold
24.2.3 Other therapeutic procedures with the patient Motivational conversation Art therapy to employ unconscious Bibliotherapy Therapeutic ordering of pace Keeping food, exercise and emotional diary Breathing techniques – progressive muscle relaxation Acupuncture Effortless meditation - with AHA recommendations for cardiovascular risk reductions Exercise Therapeutic touch
25. The creative process and eroticism
26. Eros and Psyche
27. Epilogue: The Reality of Consciousness by Peter Russell

Recommended literature
About the author

Index of pictures and tables
Figure (chart) 1:  The increased risk of chronic diseases 
Figure (chart) 2: Physiological parameters of runners 
Figure 3: Plutchik's wheel of emotions 
Figure (chart) 4: Normal daily rhythm (circadian rhythm) levels of hormone cortisol 
Figure (chart) 5: Physiological parameters of volunteers who slept only 3 hours a day for 5 days in a row
Figure 6: HPA axis and interaction with cytokines 
Figure 7: Immune system and cytokines 
Figure (chart) 8: Graphical representation of immune status 
Figure 9: A weakened immune system, obesity, diabetes mellitus type 2 and cardiovascular diseases as a result of stress 
Figure 10: Psychoneuroimmunology  
Figure 11: Homeostatic fragility 
Figure 12: Heart rate variability  
Figure 13: Analysis of heart rate variability with Holter in a patient with chronic fatigue 
Figure 14: Endogenous and exogenous effects of free radicals in the development of disease 
Figure 15: Metabolic pathways of peroxisomes 
Figure 16: Chronic diseases that are associated with oxidative stress 
Figure 17: Inflammation as a result of free radicals effect on development of disease 
Figure 18: Energy balance in the cell 
Figure 19: The connection among cytokines, serotonin (5-HT) and tryptophan metabolism 
Figure 20: Possible mechanisms affecting the immune and neurovegetative balance (Mynt, 2007)  
Figure 21: Environment "forms the genetic code" 
Figure 22: The link between environmental signal and cell nucleus 
Figure (pictures) 23: Human perception and art 
Figure 24: Developmental stages by Ericson 
Figure 25: Map of the human psyche – Assagioli's Psychosynthesis 'Egg diagram' 
Figure 26: Amazons  
Figure 27: Don Juan  
Figure 28: Maslow hierarchy of needs 
Figure 29: The perception of the event and "flight or fight” stress response 
Figure 30: Meeting our own needs and desires and needs and desires of others 
Figure 31: Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) at meditation  
Figure 32: Single photon emission computed tomography   
Figure 33: Brain structure  
Figure 34: Right and left brain hemisphere  
Figure (chart) 35: Autonomic balance between sympathetic (LF) and parasympathetic (HF) activity 
Figure (chart) 36: Autonomic balance  
Figure (chart) 37: Heart rate variability (measurements obtained by frequency analysis) in subjects included in the "exercise on prescription" 
Figure (chart) 38: Autonomic balance between sympathetic (LF) and parasympathetic (HF) activity 
Figure (chart) 39: Autonomic balance (measurements obtained by time analysis of heart rate variability – HRV) 
Figure (chart) 40: Exercise on prescription in vital program
Figure 41: Hormonal stress profile 
Figure 42: Parameters of immune status, performance and quality of life for the patient prior to and during the course of therapy 
Figure 43: The link between brain, gastrointestinal tract and intestinal bacteria (microbiota) 
Figure 44: Enterotypes - bacterial diversity in humans 
Figure 45: Metabolism of homocysteine; synthesis of methionine and cysteine 
Figure 46: Folate and the metabolism of nucleic acids 
Figure 47: Metabolism of choline and betaine 
Figure 48: Metabolism of homocysteine and transsulfuration pathway 
Figure (report) 49: Typing LDL particle size in a patient with coronary heart disease 
Figure (report) 50: IPM treatment program for chronic patients and 5P approach   
Figure (report) 51: PEP stress test  
Figure (photo) 52: The Bruce protocol   
Figure (photo) 53: Cyclospiroergometry  
Figure 54: IPM food, exercise and emotional diary  

Table 1: Altered laboratory parameters in chronic stress. 
Table 2: Modified functional measurements of HRV in chronic stress 
Table 3: Timeline of recovery after physical activity  
Table 4: Indicators of catabolic and anabolic phases of the organism 
Table 5: Procedures to speed up the recovery after a major physical activity  
Table 6: Substances that accelerate recovery 
Table 7: Laboratory data of 55-year-old patient 
Table 8: 12 minute test for men under 30 years 
Table 9: 12 minute test for women under 30 years 
Table 10: 2400 m test 
Table 11: The energy consumption of different activities in 15 minutes 
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