Raffaele Morelli, la mente ha bisogno di acqua

Raffaele Morelli, the mind needs water

The president of Istituto Riza is one of the signatories of the petition for the institution of a National Day of Hydration

MILAN – Raffaele Morelli, president of the Istituto Riza and vice president of the Società Italiana di Medicina Psicosomatica [the Italian society for psychosomatic medicine] described the special relationship between water and the mind. The professor interpreted this relationship in an interview during the international conference on hydration held at Expo on 11 July this year and organised by FEMEC and San Pellegrino.

Water nourishes the mind

The mind needs images, just like the body needs molecules to live, regenerate itself and restore itself. If we close our eyes and try to imagine a spring of water whenever our ego feels undermined, tired or shaken, this image will puts us in touch with the infinite life force. Thinking about water signifies returning to our origins, immersing ourselves in the ancient part of the brain where there is that "mysterious gap between brain and body", described by Freud.

Just as water rehydrates our bodies and vital organs, images of water revive the metabolism of our brain. Images of water are an important reference point for our mental health: anyone who ever lived on this earth appears to have sought tranquillity, relaxation and inner peace in spas and through rituals. Our forebears were aware of ancestral images of the soul and the therapeutic power of water.

Water in psychotherapy

Psychotherapy considers images of water as a good way of overcoming panic attacks, rejection, night fears, existential crises and troubled relationships.

Water is essential for the relationship between mind and body. For example, now it is well-established that dehydration affects mood in women and cognitive functions in men. Several studies conducted at the University of Human Performance Laboratory in Connecticut have shown that dehydration not only affects our bodies, but also our minds. Even mild dehydration, defined as a loss of 1.5% of volume of water present in the body, is capable of altering people’s moods and cognitive functions.

The above studies involved 25 men and 26 women, healthy and active individuals (but neither high performance athletes, nor sedentary), who took part in three assessments over three months. Dehydration was induced in them, giving them diuretics, asking them not to drink and getting them to walk on a treadmill. Immediately afterwards, they were subjected to a series of cognitive tests which measured and noted a drop in alertness, concentration, reaction time, learning, memory, reasoning and mood.

Finally, other researchers (Grandjean, 2007) have identified a close connection between dehydration and short term perceptive-motor observation, long term memory, and arithmetic ability. It has emerged that dehydration in men incurs difficulty in undertaking intellectual tasks and influences fields of perception, while women experience reduced cognitive capacity, and high levels of fatigue, tension and anxiety. These unwelcome changes in mood and symptoms are significantly more pronounced in women than in men. Researchers are unable to explain the essential difference in the effects of dehydration on the minds and moods of men and women, but in any case recommend drinking adequate amounts.