American healthcare in crisis. Part 4: Possible solutions: revisiting the power of the human mind in healing.

Looking back, the first indications we had that the scientific assumptions that underlay modern healthcare were limiting us were not seen in medicine, they became apparent in the physics lab.  In the early twentieth century, research findings began to be recognized that conflicted with the Newtonian, strictly materialistic basis of the physics of that day.  To integrate these findings into our understanding it was necessary to develop revolutionary new theories.  Einstein’s theories of relativity are an example.  More important to medical science, though, were the findings in the study of sub-atomic particles that led to the development of quantum mechanics.

The equations of quantum mechanics were describing an interconnection of everything in the universe that contradicted the Newtonian assumption that every particle of matter is completely independent and interacts only through physical forces.  Further, an even more radical finding was that human consciousness was clearly playing a fundamental role in how these particles behaved.  Whether or not an observer had conscious awareness of an interaction between particles of matter made a clear difference in how they acted.  It is very important, though, to keep in mind here that these radical interactions were being observed in the laboratory, they were not just derived from the implications from quantum theory.  Quantum mechanics merely describes how the world actually works.  It is used every day by physicists and always found to be precisely accurate.

About the only impact these changes in scientific theories has had on medicine, though, has been in producing very sophisticated diagnostic equipment like MRI scanners.  By and large, medicine is still practiced using theories based on a Newtonian, pre-quantum physics view of the world.  But research in medicine is beginning to uncover some of these revolutionary changes and these reports are beginning to appear in traditional medical journals.  For example, several studies have shown that prayer for people in intensive care units and other hospital settings can improve the medical course of those patients prayed for.  Something very important is happening, here, and it is being documented using standard research methods.

Actually, a large data base about this kind of mental healing has been accumulating for many years, it’s just that most scientists don’t know about it.  Very solid scientific research has shown that certain people have impressive abilities to heal plants, animals and other humans through mental intent and without any contact with their object of healing.  Many of these studies have been double-blind and well controlled.  Their results are conclusive and completely support the healing studies in the ICU mentioned above.  According to the training I received in medical school, and which medical students are still receiving, these kinds of findings should not be being reliably produced in good quality research designs.

Another example of these kinds of anomalous findings in medicine are described in my articles about the acupressure techniques I sometimes use in my office and “energy medicine” techniques like EFT.  These techniques are producing results quickly and easily that, in some instances, all of our current medical approaches have failed to produce.  (See: and I routinely see results that are in complete conflict with the medical theory I was taught (and which still form the basis for the research reported in the journals our physicians read every day to keep up with medical advances).

While these anomalous medical findings have very important implications, I think their potential pales beside the findings produced by research studying the relationship between childhood trauma and adult disease.  I discussed this briefly in a previous article, but I want to point out here that this research can have huge implications for eliminating common chronic diseases that we can now only try to control.  (See:   Diseases like diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis and even cancer. 

Taken together, findings like the ones I have been describing can move us into a whole new arena of medical interventions by beginning to better utilize the powers of the human mind.  I will continue to provide more examples of these kinds of findings in the article series I am calling: The Healing powers of the human mind.  I encourage you, if you have been interested in these articles, to follow this series in the future.

Let me return for a moment to the financial implications of this medical re-orientation I am advocating.  We should be re-directing a much larger portion of our research budget to these alternative healing strategies.  What we really need to know now, in my opinion, is the mechanism behind their effectiveness.  Traditional science does not seem to have any candidates for these mechanisms other than vague “quantum” effects.  Once we learn about the mechanisms of action, these alternative healing methods can be very widely and very effectively utilized.  Modern medicine will then take a huge leap forward.  Perhaps it may even find itself finding a new appreciation for many of the traditional and indigenous healing traditions it once scorned.

As always, I look forward to any comments you may have.






About Chuck Gebhardt

I am a physician specializing in internal medicine. I sub-specialize in nutritional medicine. I am very interested in all areas of healing research, not necessarily limited to traditional medicine topics.
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