FMBR Editorial: Feb, 1986
Thinking About Getting Well
Robert L. Shacklett
In a previous editorial ("Speculations about PK," May, 1985) I described a simple model of how we might understand the behavior of physical systems when they are influenced by thought. I then applied the model to the human body, suggesting that a condition of either health or illness was the result of the combined effects of "intent" and "natural law." In this present discussion I would like to pursue these ideas a little further and, hopefully, shed more light on the healing process.
First, a quick review. The model I am using follows naturally from two assumptions:
- "Thought" takes place at a different level than the physical (call it "mind") but interacts with the physical through a weak coupling between physical energy and a more subtle energy form.
- A physical system behaves in accordance with natural law (the principle of "least action") except when thought interacts with it.
[An explanatory note about "least action" is in order here. Action is defined in physics as the product of energy and time. The principle of least action states that when any physical system undergoes some kind of change, the process proceeds in such a way that the total action is minimized. The familiar "conservation of energy" is a corollary of this principle.]
The model pictures thought as a kind of "perturbation" on an otherwise deterministic process. The weakly coupled thought energy is the rudder--the vector--which influences the direction of flow of physical energy.
In order to apply this model to the healing process I will use the term "thought" in a quite generic sense, using it to refer to mental activity at any level, including the deep structures of the subconscious. And to conserve space I will merely list a number of Propositions which seem to me to emerge logically from the model:
- The "cause" of illness or wellness does not reside anywhere in the physical plane. It is at the level of thought.
- The body's immune system makes it possible to live in complete harmony with the rest of nature. This system is a kind of "Maginot Line" of energy barriers which inhibit biochemical reactions that would be harmful to the body.
- The immune system is weakened selectively or nonselectively by corresponding thought patterns. For example, if I believe that this is the "cold season," then colds are what I am likely to experience. If I have accepted illness in general as a possibility for me then my body gets to choose the kind and the amount.
- Drugs work because they help change the thought pattern, but they also have a direct effect on the chemistry related to the disease, restoring appropriate energy barriers. Placebos work entirely at the thought level, and are frequently just as effective as drugs.
- Healing comes in two forms. One is at the physical level and is associated with the disappearance of the symptoms. The other is at the thought level and associated with the restoration of the immune system.
- "Letting go" is necessary for complete healing. This can be understood as a conscious retraining of thoughts to a point of "knowing" that the healing is underway. The feeling should be much the same as after we put the bandaid on a cut finger--we forget about it! Only then can the body chemistry proceed without interference from perturbing thoughts of illness.
Robert L. Shacklett, February 1986