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Excerpted from Minding the Body, Mending the Mind by Joan Borysenko. Copyright 1988 by Joan Borysenko. Excerpted by permission of Random House, Inc.  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.
 


"Until the last few years, scientists often have been in the position of having to deny what they were seeing, simply because the underlying mechanisms were not understood."

Joan BorysenkoMinding the Body,
Mending the Mind
, Part 1

Several years ago at the Tufts University School of Medicine, I saw an incredible movie demonstrating acupuncture anesthesia. As assistants twirled a few needles, a surgeon incised a patient's chest, cracked the ribs, and removed a lobe of the lung--all while the patient, his head demurely hidden behind a sheet, talked amiably and sipped tea. I was watching with my husband, immunologist Dr. Myrin Borysenko, and we were both astounded by what we saw. I could only shake my head when Myrin asked a colleague of ours from the medical school what he thought. "It's nothing," our colleague said. "Just hypnosis."

Until the last few years, scientists often have been in the position of having to deny what they were seeing, simply because the underlying mechanisms were not understood. Science is a search for explanations, a complex structure built of small, measurable units, yet some things that happen to real people in the real world just don't fit inside the well-established categories.

An individual with multiple personalities is diabetic in one identity but normal in all the others. A subject under hypnosis raises a very real blister On her skin, even though the "hot iron" the hypnotist says he is touching her with is, in reality, an ordinary pencil. In a clinical test, one-third of women receiving placebos instead of chemotherapy still lose their hair. How can this be?

The Power of Faith and Hope

Two thousand years ago a woman who had suffered prolonged uterine bleeding approached Jesus of Nazareth. Coming up to him in a crowd, she touched the hem of his garment and was instantly healed. Jesus turned to her and explained that it was her faith that had made her whole. After centuries of slow progress toward rational explanations of the physical world, even scientists can at last begin to appreciate the truth of His assessment. We are entering a new level in the scientific understanding of mechanisms by which faith, belief, and imagination can actually unlock the mysteries of healing.

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