For most of my life I have been more or less overweight. I figured my body was just something I used to carry my brain around.

Tentatives at presentation (clothes, makeup) were just not as serious as with my women-friends. I mean, it was just not as important to my identity as “smart” was.

Back then — only a few years ago — I actually had a mental health worker (therapist) who allegedly had a particular interest in eating disorders ask me how I got through life without being ashamed to go places because I was fat.

I shrugged my shoulders and told her I lived in a world where it simply did not matter. The only place it kept me from going was mixers — and as I had determined men were a waste of time and I actually believed I would never marry, what did it matter anyway?

The evidence for a mind-body connection came to me mostly from scientific literature. I would occasionally cite it to patients who seemed so oriented.

I think I have told lots of men “A lot of guys seem to feel better when they work out.” I could never endorse such a statement with my whole spirit, though. A lot of my depressed males (mostly veterans, as I think of it) would respond with sighs and discussion of their reasons for procrastination. I would usually end up sticking to the medication.

Somewhere, on some licensure examination in general medicine, I remember being fairly blindsided (but I believe, ultimately answering correctly) a question about body language. It consisted of four or five line drawings of male patients in various poses: one ramrod straight in his chair, and one spread eagle with his arms in the air among them.

The question was, which patient was easiest to interview? The ramrod straight one was guarded and the spread eagle one with his arms in the air had to be the most open.

I continued the exam, but not before I realized that I had been reading and using body language all along.

I had been using it to read other people, of course. If nothing else, I had somehow assimilated subconsciously that there was indeed some kind of correlation between the way people sat (?stood?walked?) and how they spoke or thought or felt.

I thought it was the stuff pop psychology articles in women’s magazines were made of. I even thought that the “secret power” of reading people’s body positioning might have been one of those things they taught psychologists and not psychiatrists.

One of the weaknesses of the scientific method is that it is really hard to show that one thing causes another. I mean, it is generally not too terribly difficult to prove that things happen at the same time, or even to show what thing happens first.

All of this puts us in a position to admire — and even apply — the work of social psychologist Amy Cuddy.

I first became aware of her work from her scientific, literate, and downright moving TED talk.

She could tell intuitively from teaching business school classes that women sat as if they were trying to make themselves “small,” all curled up, while men sat sprawling all over the place, as if they were trying to make themselves “large.”

It is not too tough to infer that attitude makes posture.

Amy Cuddy showed that posture makes attitude. She showed it scientifically and elegantly for academic journals. But she did something more powerful. She showed the relevance of her findings in the “real world,” a tougher thing for scientists to do.

This accounts for her having been chosen as a “game changer” by Time Magazine.

Dr. Cuddy found her way into “Inc.,” the business magazine.

If postures control power, confidence, and other related powerful attributes, then everybody should be posing.

As Dr. Cuddy herself has pointed out, it is free and does not take a great deal of time.

Notice I just said that this method includes striking “poses” or “postures.”

Not thoughts nor meditations.

Sure beats the times I told depressed veterans to go to the gym.

In her experiments, it only takes two minutes of a “power pose.”

I especially like the hands-on-hips “Wonder Woman” pose.

Dr. Cuddy specifically studied what I can only call a “triumphant” pose — the way that athletes look when they have just broken a finish line ribbon first.

They invariably raise their arms in the air, a few degrees above the horizontal, and lift their chins.

There is something in the human body that makes this pose “right” and natural, for Dr. Cuddy has shown even those who have been blind from birth spontaneously strike this pose in appropriate circumstances.

Me, I have already taken up daily posing — and it feels fantastic. I see no reason why everyone should not.

Only benefits — no risk nor cost.

From what little I know of the personal history of Dr. Cuddy, I resonate with this woman.

She appears to have been identified as a gifted child in her youth. I know personally that is not necessarily a gift. Many gifted children are sensitive, socially ostracized, and the like. Very few actually get to make the intellectual and social contributions they would seem to have been born to make.

I am not asking for pity for her or me — just noting you have to take your lumps in order to be able to make it through.

Her beginnings sound fairly humble. She did work at least part of her way through undergraduate university as a roller-skating waitress.

I worked at least a little of my early way through medical school (at Amiens, France) as a waitress — in a café that served the hard-drinking working class.

My balance and equilibrium have always been a challenge. I doubt I could have done the job on roller skates, even if such a position had been available in Amiens.

She trained in classical ballet. To this day, I am a senior ballet trainee who uses it mainly to stretch and strengthen.

In her TED talk, as well as any biographies, it is mentioned that she had a head injury that was serious enough to get her IQ to descend significantly. No numbers are ever mentioned, but the phrase “two standard deviations” down is mentioned — and believe me, this is serious stuff.

She was informed that she should basically abandon any plans of graduating college in favor of something else.

This is especially shattering to someone who saw herself as a “gifted” child, who saw being intelligent as a part of her “core identity.”

The world should be thankful that she did not listen to those who told her to abandon her path.

Dr. Cuddy seemed to have shed a very real tear at this part of her talk. I was certainly convinced of its reality, and sincerely hope that all viewers were.

Me, I had a life-threatening illness to figure out. But in a strange way, facing the possibility of your own annihilation may be less terrifying than a loss of core identity.

The inspiring part came not from religion, nor from any prestructured ideology. It seems to have come from a strong sense of self that had been instilled long before the head injury.

Maybe having known she had been identified as a “gifted child” helped some.

Not everyone can be told they are “gifted” in the IQ test sense, because not everyone is. but there are plenty of kinds of gifts — artistic, manual, and others — and telling a child he or she is in possession of such gifts — any kind of gifts — may be a little piece, at least, of building enough of a sense of self to fight serious adversity. But if you don’t want to sink energy into intuitive hypotheses, just do a couple of minutes of power posing for now.

Go ahead – I’ll wait for you.

OK – feel better? I knew you would!

But back to Dr. Cuddy — She had a realization, in her fear of not making it, and cites cheering someone else who did not think they could make it as a moment of turning-point.

She says this simply made her realize that she should be trying to do what she was doing, and she did.

It was not clear how much she knew about “power posturing” in college. Probably little more than suspecting its power.

It is true — it is even virtually axiomatic — that personal experiences shape the choices of career that follow.

If for some reason you do not want to pose like Wonder Woman or a winning athlete regularly, at least grasp the inspiration for achieving goals.

Author's Bio: 

In her medical career, she has studied in Europe and Canada as well as the USA. She has attended specialty training beyond medical school in the fields of general surgery, neurology and neurosurgery and psychiatry (specializing in psychopharmacology).

Experienced In Many Situations

She has worked in a variety of positions, including:

Medical school professor
General and Orthopedic surgeon
Brain surgeon
Army Medical Corps psychiatrist
Prison psychiatrist
Community Mental Health Center staff
Consultant to a major transplant hospital
Drug researcher
“Whatever It Takes!”

She currently has her own indepenent clinic in San Diego where she is concentrating on what she calls Mind/Body medicine — or Integrative Medicine. Her practice is cash-only, doesn’t accept insurance or government payments, and she operates on the concierge, or “private doctor” practice model to give her patients the absolute best quality of care and the highest level of confidentiality.

Dr. Goldstein’s philosophy is “Whatever It Takes!” Her goal is to do everything possible to solve whatever problem she is presented. This includes seeing patients as quickly as possible — not making them wait weeks for an appointment. This includes making appointments days, nights, weekends or holidays. This includes making house-calls. And it includes using the best, most innovative treatments available — most of which are unknown to standard, mainstream doctors.

Her focus is on transitioning patients away from prescription drugs and onto natural substances. She is also a master practitioner of Emotional Freedom Technique, a powerful and dynamic form of energy psychology that usually brings quicker results than traditional psychotherapy.