The Mind-Body Link
The mind body link has long been acknowledged, but is perhaps counter-cultural in the Western world which focuses almost exclusively on the biochemistry of the body often to the exclusion of the health of the patient’s mind.
However, promoting bodily health without encouraging health of the mind is an exercise in futility.
We have all heard of people who believe they are ill and show real signs of their imagined affliction. Almost every doctor has witnessed or heard of reports of spontaneous and inexplicable remission from diseases where the prognosis had been utterly without hope.
But did you know that it has been shown that an individual with multiple personality disorder (or Dissociative Identity Disorder as it is now known) can present both as a diabetic and a non-diabetic depending on which personality is dominant? That is to say, a single body, with a single pancreas can create an insulin deficiency or sufficiency purely based on what the mind believes!
So a belief, which occurs only in the mind, can manifest physically in the body – for good or ill. An example of a belief leading to a negative outcome can be seen in research conducted in America which shows that Chinese-Americans die significantly earlier than normal if they have a combination of disease and birth year that Chinese astrology and Chinese medicine consider ill-fated. An example of a belief leading to a positive outcome is that of a teenage boy treated by Dr Albert Mason at the Queen Victoria Hospital in London where he was cured (with hypnosis) from what was believed to be a severe case of warts which covered his body almost entirely. Only later did the doctor and his patient discover that the boy’s condition was, in fact, a potentially lethal case of congenital ichthyosis which was not known to be curable with hypnosis.
The Mind Body Link and the Placebo Effect
This confirms the mind-body link and opens up the subject of ‘placebo’ where a beneficial effect is produced which cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself (whether drug or other treatment) and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment. Numerous studies have been conducted into the placebo effect, sham drugs, acupuncture, psychotherapy and even sham surgery amongst many other interventions, all leading to effective healing in many cases. In fact, around 33% of the population will respond to the placebo effect. In the book Love, Medicine and Miracles by Dr. Bernie Siegel, 30% of patients who were given saline but told it may be chemotherapy, lost their hair.
So the power of suggestion is powerful, and even in the relatively new field of genetics, the notion is now being challenged that our DNA dictates (without mercy) who we are, what we look like and whether or not we will be susceptible to ‘inherited’ diseases. Whilst we are born with DNA, the study of epigenetics is uncovering new theories that bring the whole notion of genetic determinism into question. Studies have shown that environmental factors can override certain genetic mutations, effectively changing how DNA is expressed.Only about 5% of cancer and cardiac-disease patients can attribute their diseases to heredity. So if you have been ‘programmed’ to believe that it is in your family and there is nothing you can do about it, just remember the power of your beautiful mind. When we change our beliefs at a subconscious level, we optimize the culture medium for the community of cells that make up the human body thereby changing the way our DNA expresses itself. The human body has shown that it can think itself sick. By the same token, it can think itself well.