Healing, Pain

How your mind can help you recover.

Here is a quick story to show you how your mind can help you recover.

For several weeks Tom had been having uncomfortable sensations in his chest resulting in a persistent cough and a difficulty in getting his breath. His doctor was concerned and prescribed him the usual drugs for this condition, however, none of them helped reduce the symptoms. Tom could still work, with a little help, but felt annoyed and tired.

After some time the GP referred him to the relevant specialist who admitted Tom to the hospital for a variety of different tests and procedures. After a few days he was discharged and went back to his day to day life with the symptoms unchanged, whilst awaiting the results.

After several days Tom was diagnosed with a fast-growing Cancer which the Consultant predicted would result in Tom having around a month or two to live.

Within a couple of days, Tom took a turn for the worse. He was now bed bound and work became impossible for him. He lost weight and needed constant nursing. The consultants prediction looked about right and Tom would indeed pass in the suggested timescale.

A second phone call from the hospital was about to change everything for Tom and his family. The very apologetic voice explained how the hospital had made a mistake. There had been a mix-up. Tom did not have cancer, he had an infection which could be treated with special drugs. Within a day Tom was up and about living his life, back at work, eating and walking. Interestingly he still had the chest symptoms but was now not dying.

This story was shared by Dr Vernon Coleman in his book Mind Over Body.

To me, this story clearly demonstrates the power of the mind and belief in aiding recovery and healing. It suggests that on occasions we behave the way think we should behave, rather than basing our behaviour on how we actually are feeling. Another point raised here is one that I feel very strongly about and that is doctors not stating how long they think a patient has to live. The Doctor knows a vast amount about the physical human body, but in my opinion not enough about an individual’s mind, beliefs, will and behaviours to accurately guess how long a patient has to live. Added to this the influence a professionals words has over an individual, especially one most likely in shock, their suggestion can become a lot like the self-fulfilling prophecy of a witch doctor. Dr Coleman puts it like this:

We think it is bizarre that there are people living in Africa or the West Indies who can be so terrified by a threat from a witch-doctor that they will go home and quietly die. Yet the only difference is that our witch-doctors wear white coats and stethoscopes instead of grass skirts and hideous masks. The Plain truth is that there is nothing in the world which has such a far-reaching effect on your health as your mind. The way you respond to stress, pressure and worry will determine the condition of you heart, circulatory system, stomach, respiratory system and every other organ and tissue in your body. It is your state of mind which determines what diseases you will develop and how long you will live.

It just goes to show how our beliefs can affect our body. We as humans are truly amazing beings and have much more control over our health than we ever thought possible.

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