A couple of weeks ago I was privileged to present at a medical symposium with some legendary giants in the field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). Drs. Andrew Weil, the world-recognized face of Integrative Medicine; Candace Pert, the research pharmacologist who discovered the brains opiate receptor sites, and launching the discovery of a host of neurotransmitters and their mechanisms of action; and Antonio Damasio, the distinguished neurologist whose book Descartes Error is the best description of the strengths and limits of scientific inquiry.
From their unique perspectives, each spoke about the links between mind and body. They showed pictures of the brain that pinpointed the areas responsible for virtually every emotional state. They explained how chronic stress would wear down the bodies defense mechanisms and make you vulnerable to disease.
I spoke last, about the spirit of healing and how doctors can tap into it to magnify their own healing power and that of their patients’. Since ancient times, we have known there is a link between mind and body, and that priests and healers had the power to cure afflictions for which no organic causes could be found.
Over the last hundred years ago Mesmer, Charcot and Freud all identified the non-physical causes for patients symptoms. The mind could manipulate the body, and the body could manipulate the mind. Emotions are transmitted at the cellular level and the vibrational level; this is not New Agey, it is science!
Pharmaceutical companies, interested in the development of medicines that alter the brain, have funded most current bran research. . $50 billion a year is spent on drugs for brain and psychiatric diseases, even though those medications are only moderately effective and come with serious side effects.
I believe in evidence-based medicine, but I also recognize its limitations. Some things can’t be explained, important questions like; Why me? Why now? And what’s next? Science answers those questions in terms of statistics and probabilities. Those explanations almost invariably hold no meaning for patients. People need to make personal sense of their illness and suffering.
All cultures have ways of telling stories that help people make sense of their suffering and how to get rid of it. In a panel discussion at the end, we all agreed that abundant wisdom has been gathered over the ages about how to make sense of our lives. Life is not simply a story of mathematical probabilities, but of inexplicable tragedy and miraculous happenings. If you kindle the spirit you awaken the mind-body to healing.