It is a connection that has been recognized since the beginning of recorded history, says Jeanne Achterberg-Lawlis, Ph.D., author of lmagery in Healing: Shamanism and Modern Medicine.
Socrates said, "There is no illness of the body apart
from the mind." But what may have been recognized by healers 2,400 years
ago was generally not recognized by most healers of 10 or 20 years ago.
For back around the turn of the 20th century, allopathic medicine
(based on vaccines and pills) came to so strongly dominate the scene in America
that all other medical theories were summarily dismissed.
The allopathic approach emphasized that for every disease
there was one germ and there was (or soon would be) one drug that could be
administered to kill it.
Legislation was enacted to outlaw many traditional healing practices, including
those that suggested a patient's thinking might affect his health, says Dr.
In the early 1980s, she and her husband, G. Frank Lawlis,
Ph.D., conducted studies at the University of Texas Health Science Center,
showing that the life expectancies of terminal cancer patients could be
accurately predicted by looking at each patient's attitude. "But nobody
wanted to hear about it," she says. "We found it very difficult to
get published in medical journals."
Today, however, the attitude is different. In the past
several years those same journals have exploded with articles about the power
of the mind to heal. In one study, for example, grief-stricken widows and
widowers were found to have fewer white blood cells, which defend the body
against foreign invaders. In another study, researchers at the State University
of New York at Stony Brook found a definite correlation between good moods and
high amounts of another germ-fighter in the saliva. Conversely, people who
reported feeling down on the day of the test showed lower-than-normal amounts
of the same health defender.
Researchers at the Ohio State University College of Medicine
who took blood samples from 38 married and 38 separated or divorced women came
up with similar conclusions. Married women with marriage problems were
generally depressed in both spirit and immune function. Women suffering through
the first year of separation from their husband had "significantly
poorer" immune defenses.
New research has even given us important clues about the
specific ways we may modify our thinking patterns to achieve unsurpassed
health. (Boost Your Brain Power, by Ellen Michaud, Russell Wild and the editors
of Prevention Magazine)