spiritual writings | retreat center directory

You're invited to visit our sister site DanJoseph.com, a resource site
featuring articles on spirituality, psychology, and A Course in Miracles.

Home | Writings | General | Michael Schmicker | Evidence part 6 | back   

Excerpted from Best Evidence by Michael Schmicker. Copyright 2000 by Michael Schmicker. Excerpted by permission of Michael Schmicker.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"Does our future health depend in part at least on what outcome we visualize in our minds?"

  Michael Schmicker, Best Evidence, Part 6

As Murphy notes, meditation research has come a long way since Bagchi and Wegner. Scientists have explored "cardiovascular, cortical, hormonal, and metabolic changes, several behavioral effects, and alterations of consciousness resulting from meditation," and experimental techniques and equipment used in meditation experiments have also improved tremendously. The results are uneven, the effects are not always consistent, but there is little doubt that the meditative mind can be used to significantly manipulate physical, bodily processes.

Hypnosis, biofeedback and meditation can all help the mind control the physical body and produce mental healing effects. Can visualization techniques do the same? Does our future health depend in part at least on what outcome we visualize in our minds? Researchers say a doctor's diagnosis usually sets a patient's mind visualizing the outcome predicted by the doctor. As a result, doctors have a dangerous power. A credible doctor giving a patient a fearful diagnosis can have the same effect as a Haitian witch giving a victim a hex, says Dr. Jeanne Achterberg, a psychology professor and leading visualization researcher.

What would run through your imagination if you were told you had cancer? Achterberg cites the case of a woman who had been given the diagnosis of breast cancer in its early stages. She died within hours of the diagnosis, leaving doctors amazed. The patient's early stage cancer couldn't have caused her death, notes Achterberg. More than likely, she feels, it was the patient's own imagination. The patient had seen her mother suffer and die from the same painful illness, and had declared she would not let herself suffer the same way. Faced with the same bleak diagnosis as her mother, her mind may have simply shut down her body's vital functions. She visualized her death from cancer -- although breast cancer is not automatically a death sentence -- and her body enacted the visualized outcome.

Visualization of a diagnosis can also work the opposite way. Achterberg cites the case of a critically ill man whose heart was failing. The patient overheard the doctor on his rounds say that the patient had a "wholesome gallop" to his heart -- implying that the heart was actually failing. Despite this grim prognosis, the patient made a complete recovery. The next time he met the doctor, he told the doctor he knew exactly what had gotten him better -- when he overheard the doctor's observation that he had a wholesome gallop to this heart. The man mistakenly had assumed that the diagnosis meant he had a lot of kick and spirit to his heart. Therefore he knew he would get better. "The medical profession is omnipotent in creating imagery" argues Achterberg, and these powerful mental images "can determine life or death independently of any medical intervention."

back to the Michael Schmicker index ->