Have you ever been sick with a cold and wished that you could just heal yourself with your mind? This may seem like a superpower, but there are cases of people overcoming terrible diseases seemingly by the force of their mind.
How did this happen? What can this teach us about our own bodies?
First, for the sake of your health, let’s be clear. I am not a health professional and the information in this article should not be taken as healthcare advice- it is for general information purposes only. You should talk to a health professional before treating any health issues.
Now that we are clear, let’s talk about what is going on with these people that are spontaneously healing. The interesting thing about these cases is that they are an extreme example of something that we have all experienced- the mind body connection. To me, these cases show just how powerful the mind-body connection can be.
Before we talk further about the cases, I’ll explain what the mind body connection is. Then, I will introduce the ideas Dr. Lissa Rankin who gave a fantastic Ted Talk about the mind-body connection. Lastly, I will show how this all relates to relaxation (this is Radical Relaxation Central after all).
What is the mind-body connection?
The mind-body connection is when your thoughts and feelings affect your physical state or vice versa. The mind-body connection is easy to understand on an intuitive level because we experience it all the time.
Have you ever blushed when you felt embarrassed? This is an example of the mind-body connection. You had a physical reaction (blushing) to a mental state (embarrassment).
If your palms happen to sweat when you are nervous you are again experiencing the mind-body connection. You are experiencing a physical reaction (sweaty palms) to a mental state (nervousness).
This doesn’t just happen during negative mental states. Have you ever felt really excited about something, perhaps seeing an old friend that you haven’t seen in years and your heart started beating faster? This is the same thing. There is a constant communication back and forth between the mind and the body.
Since the mind and body are so intricately connected, can we use the mind-body connection to improve our health?
One medical professional that is exploring how the mind-body connection and health is Dr. Lissa Rankin. In her Ted talk below , she discusses why we need to consider the mind-body connection in order to improve our overall health and tells some of the incredible case studies that show evidence of the mind-body connection.
Medicine and the mind-body connection
Dr. Rankin believes that there is an arrogance in the medical community that prevents some of the best lessons of the mind-body connection from being used.
For example, if a doctor tells a patient that they only have 2 weeks to live, it may convince the patient that they are doomed and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, doctors tend to feel obligated to tell their patients the most accurate statistics which allows them to make plans, connect with family, etc.
Unlike Dr. Rankin, I don’t think that doctors fail to accept the mind-body connection out of arrogance. In fact, I have noticed that many doctors actually seem to like the idea and will discuss it if you ask them.
Many are at least willing to talk about it. This communication is vital because complimentary treatments may actually interfere with the standard treatment. It could also help your doctor gain more insight into a health condition that you may have.
At any rate, if you are thinking about trying out any complimentary health treatments that use the mind-body connection such as massages, acupuncture, or relaxation, I highly encourage you to talk to a medical professional. You might be pleasantly surprised. Even if you are disappointed, you will gain important information.
The Spontaneous Remission Project
In her speech, Dr. Rankin mentions the Spontaneous Remission Project from the Institute of Noetic Sciences. This project documents medical cases where patients recovered from illnesses and injuries despite receiving inadequate treatment. Many of the cases are truly surprising and fascinating.
One case that Dr. Rankin brings up in her speech is the case of Mr. Wright who was suffering from cancer. His illness was so severe that doctors estimated he had only about a week to live.
However, there was an experimental drug that Mr. Wright believed would help him. Though he did not meet the criteria for this experimental drug, his doctors gave in to his persistence. Amazingly, Mr. Wright showed improvement and he continued to live on.
However, after about two months, a report came out that stated that the experimental drug was not effective. Mr. Wright became extremely depressed from the news and his health began to deteriorate again. However, one doctor had a hunch that he could heal heal Mr. Wright. He told Mr. Wright that he had an ultra-pure, extremely effective version of the drug.
He injected Mr. Wright with only purified water but that didn’t matter- Mr. Wright once again improved. However, after a few months, a new report came out that said that the drug was completely cancelled.
Within two days of the report, Mr. Wright was dead.
I have personally seen the power of the mind-body connection in my own life. About ten years ago, my friend Joanne* was diagnosed with Graves disease, an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid. She lost weight, her eyes protruded and she became very weak. She began treatment but the drugs didn’t seem to help her very much. She put on some weight but according to her blood work the disease still ravaged her body.
After a few years, Joanna became more and more interested in nutrition. She learned different natural remedies for Graves disease and even began to grow her own garden full of healthy and nutritious food. She began to feel stronger and her eyes no longer protruded.
About a year later, she went into remission and has been in remission ever since. I believe that the nutritional research that Joanna did helped in her recovery, but I also believe that the mind body connection also had an influence.
Joanna was deeply skeptical of her thyroid medicine and didn’t want to take medication for the rest of her life (her fate if she had opted for the radioactive iodine treatment). Learning that she could do something for herself gave Joanna a new life. I believe that her enthusiasm and belief in her new diet helped her recover.
How can relaxation make you healthier?
In both the cases of Mr. Wright and Joanne, their belief seemed to help them recover from their diseases. Mr. Wright believed very strongly in his experimental drug and Joanne believed in the nutrients coming from her garden.
According to the acclaimed Harvard physician Dr. Herbert Benson, the relaxation response can make you more receptive to new information. Professionals can use this therapeutically to help with medical treatments.
Even better, relaxing both your mind and body turns on natural healing processes in the body. Even if you are not sick, you should relax so that your body can recharge.
In conclusion, the mind-body connection is very powerful and important for your overall well-being. In this article, I went over what the mind-body connection is, gave some of the opinions of Dr. Lissa Rankin an expert on the topic, illustrated some case studies, and showed how it all relates to relaxation.
I hope that this article has given you some new insights into the body and health.
Have you ever experienced or seen and extreme case of the mind body connection? Do you think that healthcare professionals seem willing to talk about the mind body connection?
Let me know in the comments below and please share this article if you found it informative.
*Names have been changed