In society's striving to attribute medical causes to all ailments and diseases and so produce a 'quick and easy fix' often in the form of medication, something extremely important is usually overlooked. And it is the most important thing of all, for it often means life or death.
It is a psychological phenomenon ... the potent mixture of fear and belief.
I can think of no better way to illustrate this than the story below - it sums up the situation perfectly: Our own mind can destroy us, even when no real problem exists. Fear and belief affects everything but its greatest effect comes into play with life-threatening illness such as cancer.
It is also an extremely important part of anxiety disorders (and depression). Indeed it's the most important thing of all in these problems ... our own mind, not some chemical imbalance or genetic flaw, but our own fears and beliefs can chain us to a life of misery.
Of course, the flip side of this situation is that positive beliefs can work wonders and transform our lives. They can also cure the seemingly incurable.
Here's the story. I take no credit for it. It was written by Matt Irwin MD as part of the article: 'AIDS and the Voodoo Hex' article, found on the virusmyth website. Nothing else sums up the awesome power of fear and belief quite like it.
--- 'The patient, ill for many weeks, looked wasted and near death. Tuberculosis or cancer was considered the cause. As he approached death, his wife informed the doctor that around four months before hospitalisation, the patient had had an argument with a local voodoo priest. The priest had summoned him to the cemetery and announced that he had 'voodooed' him and that he would die very soon.
Dr. Daugherty pondered long how to save this man. What followed was more like theatre than medical treatment, but it saved the man's life.
The next day the doctor gathered 10 or more of the patient's kin at the bedside and announced in his most authoritative voice that he knew what was wrong. He described how he had confronted the voodoo priest and demanded to know what he had done. He announced, to the man and his family, "the priest had made some lizard eggs climb down into your stomach and they hatched some small lizards. All but one of them died, leaving one big one that is eating all your food and the lining of your body". He informed the group that he would remove the lizard.
He then gave the man a powerful emetic to induce vomiting and within a few moments the man started to vomit. After several minutes of continued vomiting, Dr. Daugherty pulled from his black bag, carefully and secretively, a live green lizard. At the height of the next wave of retching, he slid the lizard into the basin and called out in a loud voice, "look what has come out of you, you are now cured, the voodoo curse is lifted."
The man then fell into a deep sleep and awoke the next morning ravenous for food. Within a week the patient was discharged home.' ---
The belief systems about voodoo in the man's community had almost killed him and it is the same in society today. Conditioned in ways to think by the educational system, many of us blindly believe information that comes from experts and authority without question. Fears and beliefs about having some terrible illness or disease, something that we cannot do anything about leaves us in a state of helplessness, our fate determined by something we cannot control. It is a potent mixture and can lead to many self-fulfilling prophecies. Cancer isn't regarded by many as 'death by diagnosis' for no reason.
Thankfully we can take control. The answer lies in insight and knowledge. To know what is really happening diminishes the fear and changes our beliefs. And with the right beliefs ... anything is possible.
By terry Dixon B.Sc.
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