Healing is not simply a matter of finding the one single cause of an illness or problem, and then finding the one single "magic bullet" that will destroy the intruder. Such reductionistic thinking is not only out-dated, it is incorrect and is the basis for bad medicine. The power of belief is so important in healing that we will take a long hard look at it now. The essence of healing is this:
1. The healer/doctor must believe the patient. This is the first step in healing. Most Americans have had the experience of a physician telling them that, "It's all in your head." When a doctor believes his or her patient, trust and hope are fostered. Without trust and hope, healing is much less likely to occur. Hope, inspired by the doctor/healer is the first step in developing a healing relationship both with your doctor, and with yourself. If you can't get your doctor to believe you, fire him or her!
2. Doctor and patient should share the same ideas about what causes illness and what cures illness. Both, ideally, should trust the same diagnostic methods and treatment modalities.
3. Doctor and patient should come to an agreement about the cause and cure and proceed with treatment under the banner of shared belief, which inspires hope, trust, and faith. It is important that doctor and patient have a shared belief in the causes and cures of illness.
These three principles are universal and can be seen in high-tech Western operating rooms, chiropractic offices, and shamans huts and caves all over the world.
Health and illness are intimately woven into the fabric of life in every culture on earth. We, in the West, believe that we can separate illness from the individual, from society, from culture. We try to separate the mind from the body and relegate the spirit to the clerics. However, a complete diagnosis must take into account body, mind, spirit (and energy), as well as the cultural beliefs, rites, and rituals. In a sense, all healing is "faith healing," even our own.
Along these lines, it is important to know about the power of the placebo effect, which accounts for a third of healing. That is, when people are given a placebo, or simply a sugar pill, a third of them will show a dramatic improvement in their symptom or illness.
Of equal, or more importance, is the nocebo effect, the opposite of the placebo effect. It is twice as powerful as the placebo effect. Here is an example: If your doctor gives you a placebo (sugar pill with nothing else in it) and tells you that it will probably cause you to feel dizzy, nauseated, and weak, 66% of people will have some type of such negative reactions.
Placebo and Nocebo are vital in our understanding of healing. It gets back to the 3 essential ingredients in a healing relationship. Trust in the healer and the healing process fosters healing (placebo effect). Words can heal and they can kill.
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