Truth About Subliminal Programs
Choices and Illusions
The Active Subconscious: Mind, Body and Memory Dependent Wellness
by Eldon Taylor
An axiom is a statement that is always true. Suppose
an axiom states, "All crows are black." We find only one white
crow. The axiom is no longer an axiom.
In our modern sophistication we have resolved that difficulty in a more modern way. We ignore it. We have retained the idea of the mind and body as separate stuff.
Cells make up the body. They collectively form organs, information systems, and all the structures and processes of life. These cells, in the mechanical view, function analogously to computer chips. Each has its program. Each has duties and primary tasks. That includes reproducing itself. It definitely does not think.
This leaves the mind dependent on the cells of the brain. These specialized cells have to communicate directly with the cells of the body. The brain received information from the body. The body received instructions from the brain. This information and these instructions make up our total consciousness.
Reductionism itself forces us to conclude that cells of the brain depend on the whole body, the body depends on the brain, and all depend on the mediation of consciousness. Nevertheless, we can ignore that. In our culture, we train people to ignore that.
Somehow, the ideas of the mind as separate from the body, of consciousness existing only as a triviality arising from a specialized area of the brain, of the body as sophisticated machinery only mechanically responding, and of disease or illness as rust in the machinery, led to the current methods of maintaining health and wellness.
Processes of thought and emotion had no role in this orthodoxy. It not only ignored but denied religious healings, placebo effects, mental curatives and a lot more. "Don't investigate anomalies. They don't originate with normal people. Seek to prove what you already know. Don't you know what re-search means? Only fanatics and lunatics, like faith healers or psychics, search for white crows."
Most people believe that fitness and exercise, genes and constitution, diet and nutrition, exposure and immunity, lifestyle and experience, and luck determine health. Some know that behavioral characteristics influence the forms of disease people experience. Few know of the connection between individual beliefs, personality traits, and wellness.
Nearly everyone expects to get the common cold or various flu viruses from time to time. They usually do. Usually they manage it on a seasonal basis. Does that surprise you? It should. We may have some choice regarding most of the illnesses that each of us may experience.
My Heart Beliefs
I lecture about health and wellness. At this point, I often see raised eyebrows in the audience. I tell some of my story before I start to explain the scientific basis for my beliefs. You know that our life experience guides interpretation of facts. You have a right to know what led to my personal attitudes.
Two older boys chased me home from school. My father got upset. He got upset with me, not them. He promised to "whip" me if I ran away again. I felt scared. Panic set in.
I did not want to go to school the next day. Alas, I didn't have to. The next morning I felt ill. I stayed ill. Days later the physician diagnosed rheumatic fever. The physician told my parents and me what course the disease might take. It took that course - for a while.
A year and a half passed. The benefits of a continual sore throat, shortness of breath, liquid diets and special attention declined. I distinctly remember deciding not to be sick. It was time to go out and play, to ride a bicycle, to say hello to my first girl, to have my first crush, time to just shoot marbles. I decided to get well. Almost overnight I did.
When I went back to school the tough guys did not bother me any more. I had become the poor skinny kid, sick with a mysterious disease for over a year and a half.
Months passed. Soon I grew by leaps and bounds. I reached almost my full height very early.
My father spent his entire life either in the military or in some form of law enforcement. He carried a gun for some 50 years. He had no patience for a "sissy" boy, especially one with the same name as his. He paid for a health studio where I learned self-defense.
In the sixth grade all those tough kids wanted to bully or fight me again. Pretty soon I fought very frequently. Then I found myself in a double bind. My father spoke to, and treated me like scum---trouble waiting to happen, always fighting.
At first I had thought he wanted me tough. Then he apparently condemned my ability to fight. He had told me, "Never run from anyone, or face having to fight me." Then he changed to a father who treated me as a rotten juvenile delinquent for not running. The mixed signals and perceived shifts hurt me and left me confused.
Now the depth of my confusion seems improbable. Remember, we have two responses to a threat wired in. Fight or flee. We can resolve dilemmas by creating new choices. I didn't recognize that. I wanted to make the right choice. I didn't conceive that we need to create those.
I think my father felt equally confused. Certainly he did not intend to place me in this situation. Perhaps I never understood him. However, I can illustrate my choices.
Children need to please a parent. I didn't know how. Suddenly I had a relapse of rheumatic fever. This sudden relapse occurred in my teens, at my fittest, involved in sports, scouting and other strenuous activities. No physical warning, just a relapse. I distinctly remember thinking that I no longer threatened anyone.
Again, many of the kids who had threatened me, felt sympathy for me instead. I did not think to connect my becoming ill with the need I had to escape my dilemma. While sick, I did not have to work out how to please my father. A heart murmur, that my mother said I had after the first bout with the disease, also returned. I lost weight. I took myself back to the circumstances where my parents had lavished me with care and attention and the outside world held no threat over me.
Fortunately for me this strategy soon failed. What if it had produce the desired result? I could well have never recovered entirely. Once again, I thought I'd had enough of being ill. I regained my good health.
I wanted to enjoy life. Athletics attracted me. I threw myself into them. Sports often serve to sublimate the fight or flee response.
In a basketball game, I played all four quarters without substitution. Later, the team coach arranged for our team physicals. I did not have a heart murmur or any other difficulties. One of my friends seemed fit as the proverbial fiddle. His physical diagnosed high blood pressure. The physical benched him, not me.
Years later a physician friend of mine examined me in a routine physical. No murmur. I told him of the history of rheumatic fever. He explained that back in the fifties physicians misdiagnosed many diseases as rheumatic fever.
Years passed and one day I fell prey to the usual seasonal influenza. Home, ill, pampering myself, I received a phone call that required immediate attention. I decided to exert some "mind over matter" and try to make myself well. By the time I had traveled across town, most of the symptoms had gone. Perhaps I had some active part in the choice of when and where, and even what I might become ill with.
Body of Beliefs
At this time in my life I studied eastern philosophy. I kept coming across the idea that we have the ability to heal ourselves. Could we? How? I searched the literature.
Hundreds of anecdotal accounts matched the one I just shared with you. Volumes recorded a time in history when Asclepiad healing centers proliferated and cured people with drama, humor, exercise, and dreams. This led me to very many stories, too many to count. Religious persons of every faith had experienced miraculous cures. Surprisingly, at least to me, a number of scientific papers, articles and books also suggested a mind/body connection with abilities and implications that challenge at every level the notion of mechanical body and disembodied mind.
I began to question the popular views of disease. What if dis-ease was not something you "caught" but a behavioral strategy, a solution to problems, an unconscious choice, even a habit. Developing rheumatic fever certainly helped me avoid a situation I did not wish to deal with!
Ernest Rossi in his wonderful book, The Psychobiology Of Mind-Body Healing, reports a demonstration by Bernheim in 1886. The subject expressed hypnotic suggestions as body processes. For example, the idea of running resulted in the sensations of running and then fatigue (Rossi, 1986). Simple words, suggestions, converted into body processes? This may sound strange. Think about it for a moment. How does a blush happen? Thoughts lead to emotions which produce body processes. I spent years administering lie detection tests: watching physical responses to the psychological associations of verbal stimuli.
Some established hypnotic phenomena defy conventional explanation. Many of us have witnessed these. The late Professor Carl LaPrecht performed one such phenomena. He taught a polygraph counter measures course to lie detection examiners. During a session, he placed himself in wide eyed hypnosis. On cue his body became rigid. Two local officers picked him up and suspended him between two chairs. His head rested at mid skull on one chair while his ankles rested on the other. In this complete body catalepsy he continued to lecture! If I had not seen this with my own eyes I would have doubted nearly anyone who told me such a story. There, in front of some thirty law enforcement people, LaPrecht did things with his body that defied possibility. How can anything defy possibility and still be possible? How could simple words or thoughts turn a living organism into a rigid bar?
Cleve Baxter has pioneered novel research with lie detection devices. His experiments with plants demonstrated that they respond to their surroundings without physical contact. They can respond specifically to individuals. This challenges notions about consciousness.
While speaking at the Ohio Academy I met a fellow presenter who extended some of Baxter's work. Dr. Bruce Lipton does research and teaches at the Stanford School of Medicine. Bruce specialized in cellular biology for years. He told me of an experiment with human cells. They removed cells and took them as much as five miles away from the host organ, or person. They closely monitored both. When one was traumatized, the other responded, even five miles away. A cell five miles away from the original host, perhaps one of your cells five miles away, will respond immediately when you suffer trauma. It will not so respond to anyone else. Somehow the distance does not entirely separate the cell from the donor. Conversely, when the cell suffers trauma the body responds. (Lipton, 1991).
Have we verified voodoo? Does this imply cell consciousness? Could the cell mediate behavior? Could the cells of the body actually provide the impetus for behavior? Individual neurons can develop conditioned responses in stimulus response experiments. This has been done with cocaine. Does this explain some addiction?
Could a two way system operate? Could both levels operate to produce behavior? Might they even cooperate? The brain cooperates with the cells to get them nutrients - or narcotics. The cells cooperate with the brain to produce vitality - or illness or disease. That meets the needs of the "stuff" we call consciousness or mind. Maybe we should just say mind. Maybe we should even say brain. Consciousness, as I use it, presupposes mind and independent will. Perhaps consciousness extends to every cell. Perhaps it makes no sense to distinguish between mind and body as distinct and independent. The questions remain. Does the mind have a role in dis-ease? Does the body imitate the mind's expectations?
Let us ask questions. Let us use the answers.
A well publicized study treated 110 patients (Simonton, 1976) at the Cancer Counselling and Research Center in Ft. Worth. It indicated that visualization procedures could enhance remission (Brain Mind, Vol. 1, 23c). Krieger demonstrated in 1971-73 and again in 1975 that therapeutic touch affected hemoglobin (Brain Mind, vol. 1, 2c).
Chopra uses an analogy for depicting the mind-body relationship. The analogy goes something like this. Imagine iron filings on top of a piece of paper with a magnet below. As the magnet goes, so do the iron filings. The thin piece of paper, the difference between mind and body, serves as a necessary barrier for the interaction to occur. The idea of independent mechanics makes no sense what-so-ever. The apparent separation exists only for the purpose of interaction. (Chopra, 1989).
Dr. Lipton believes that the cells in each body tune to a frequency, all 75 trillion of them. When cloned they remain tuned to this frequency. Lipton suggests this as scientific evidence for the analogy of receiving a broadcast from spiritual self, quintessential self, higher self, or whatever one would call that universal human experience. (Lipton, 1991).
Thus far, what might we conclude? Cells mimic behavior and thought patterns; the thought patterns respond to cellular input. Do they? Dr. Bruce Lipton believes that the interrelationships of society recapitulate those of the body which recapitulate those of the cell. He believes this holds true for all structures and processes, including consciousness itself. Lipton envisions technology as extensions of models from the body. Societal organizations function by specialty and cooperation as do the cells of the body.
Allow me to recommend a huge and elegant book: Living Systems by James G. Miller. He divides all life into seven levels: cells, organs, organisms, groups, organizations, nations, and supra-national systems. He details 19 specific functions common to all. Does society mimic the cell? Yes. Society mimics the cell in at least 19 identified ways. So does everything in between.
Does the cell mimic society? Could plagues match, on a cellular level, the cultures they rage through? This regenerates the old nature/nurture argument from a different perspective.
Can one alter an attitude, a belief, an assumption and alter at least personal reality? Can I just imitate health and be healthy? Old assumptions about health and wellness, and consciousness and mind stuff, permeate every aspect of our health care.
Robert Becker has demonstrated some ability for limb regeneration (1987). Bruce Lipton told me that the "problem today in limb regeneration is that doctors misunderstand the nervous system and so close off an amputation. This has the effect of inhibiting the regeneration procedures." (1991, private communication). I recognize this as a highly emotional, as well as highly speculative area. I emphasize it because limb regeneration, if indeed possible, will not occur without altering established treatment. Altering established treatment will not occur without altering established attitude.
To what extent might our cells mimic social behavior? No genes directly control behavior (Lipton, 1991). Genes only direct building materials. Our learning generates the psychology behind behavior. Could it inhere to cellular memory of some kind, from some source? Could it depend entirely on enculturated mimics of social behavior?
Solomon charts the mind-body communication model this way (BMB, Vol 13, 8G):
Solomon concludes, "The preponderance of evidence links both the central and autonomic nervous systems and the immune system "beyond a reasonable doubt.""
Nelson Panj, a biologist with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, sees the immune system as a cognitive process. He asserts that the immune system "reacts to certain antigens not because they are foreign but because they are non-sense. They don't fit into the orderly system." (BMB, Vol 3, 6A). By an analogous process, children learn not to babble. Perhaps a body has learned, or needs, a disease. Pathogens that fit into the "orderly system," go unapproached by immune functions.
We can teach (condition) immune responses. Can we "unlearn" them? Can we learn (condition) immune responses when needed and unlearn (decondition) them at will? Is disease natural? Could it be a living myth? Does any of this make sense for anyone ill? It's one thing to evaluate and philosophize about health if I am well and quite another if not. What then?
In 1765 Franz Anton Mesmer employed magnets to produce miraculous cures. Later, most critics said that Mesmer obtained results due to the power of suggestion in what Braid termed hypnosis (Krasner, 1990). That term persisted despite Braids attempt to alter it.
The word originated from the observation that subjects under the influence of Mesmer seemed to enter a state of "nervous sleep." Later Braid decided that the term monoideism more appropriately described this state. A single idea, held to the exclusion of other ideas, produced the phenomenon demonstrated by Mesmer. Others also used imagination and imitation to produce an altered state of consciousness, and so healed the chronically ill. Braid discounted the magnets entirely.
History twists. Science plays with opinions. We've come the better part of the way to admitting that hypnosis and magnets contributed to the miracles of Mesmer's time. For years Mesmer and his followers cured patients of a host of different illnesses using his methods. In time Mesmer suffered disgrace. He died in obscurity. The disgrace stemmed in part from the scientific community's inability to replicate Mesmer's work. They maintained that the magnets in and of themselves did not work! Something worked. People could see again, people could walk again.
Why do we often overlook cures in favor of indictments? Mesmer had it wrong. But, by and large, the ill who had been cured remained cured. Many factors tangled together here. Even referring to both hypnosis and magnetism is an over simplification. The fact remains. Something totally out of the ordinary model of mechanical body part models worked. Braid settled on the power of suggestion or hypnosis. Hypnosis has demonstrated results for asthma, hypertension, bleeding, dermatitis, various emotional disorders, speeding the rate of healing and much more. (Udolf, 1981). Words working curative powers?
In the 1880's Jean Martin Charcot regularly demonstrated one of his favorite hypnotic procedures to medical personnel at the Salpetriere hospital in France. He would hypnotize patients suffering from hysterical paralysis. In hypnosis they would stand and walk on Charcot's command. In ordinary consciousness, the same person would "crumple to the ground" (Locke & Colligan, 1986). Did these suggestions, given during hypnosis revivify a cellular memory of wellness? Did they remove or circumvent psychological barriers that sustained the dysfunction? Freud theorized that "emotions not expressed in words or actions would find expression in some sort of physical ailment" (Locke & Colligan, 1986). Did hypnosis alter such unexpressed emotion?
Examine the human condition. Medical professionals often deal with personality as experimental scientists deal with random variables. However, without the natural variations in personality, such terms as "normal" or "pathological" have no meaning. The variable we call personality is the essential of the human condition. In fact, personality extends beyond the human sphere into at least the animal kingdom. Does personality have anything to do with illness?
A number of well documented cases clearly demonstrate that it does. Personality can influence the manifestation of disease. This is so well documented that specific personality types have gained recognition as leading candidates for each of the "seven psychosomatic ailments." These are peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, hypertension, hyperthyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, neurodermatitis and asthma (Locke & Colligan, 1986).
Multiple personality patients routinely devastate mechanistic beliefs about the body. A patient in one personality may test totally normal in every physiological sense. With a shift of personality, some as quick as the snap of a finger, the second personality may exhibit hypoglycemia or even diabetes (Lipton, 1991). Blood chemistry altering in seconds? How does a personality shift alter body chemistry in seconds? Can a personal belief system, such as personality, alter cellular behavior instantly? Granted, a state bound memory can manifest profoundly in physiology - but within the time it takes to snap your fingers?
Dr. Frank Putnam of the National Institute of Health (NIH) studied how people with multiple personality disorder go from one personality to another. He found that their electroencephalograms (EEGs) "change as dramatically as though the electrodes have been taken off one person and placed on another." Other such patients have demonstrated everything from eye color change to having one menstruation cycle per month for every personality housed within the patient. (Noetic Sciences, May 1987).
A change in personality can cause an instant change in the way the cells behave. What mechanism allows for such a dramatic shift in a person's blood chemistry? What "trigger," exists to make this possible?
Madelaine Visintaines of the University of Pennsylvania has linked helplessness to cancer. She concluded that helplessness is somehow inferred by the body as an absence of "the ability of the organism to resist tumor development."
Duke University showed hostility and mistrust to be key predictors of heart disease and early death. (BMB, Vol. 14, 6G). H. J. Eysenck summarized a group of European studies and found the following:
Personality ties in with clusters of diseases. At Georgia State University, researchers discovered that people with eating and drinking disorders also suffered depression, indecision, chronic fatigue, low self-esteem, physical weakness and hopelessness. (BMB, Vol. 11, 16F). At the University of Texas, Austin, higher cancer rates occurred in under-stimulated mice and mice with minimal expressive behavior. (BMB, Vol 11, 11G).
Karl Goodkin of Stanford University School of Medicine reviewed studies of women prone to cervical cancer. He created a composite personality type. He suggests a personality at higher risk for cancer as:
However, women who developed cervical cancer were additionally characterized as:
What have we discovered from these pathogenic personality models? Nearly every type or characteristic has appeared. The reader need not fear that "Personality Kills." Notice the qualifiers of excess: over cooperative; not altruistic, but extremely self sacrificing; hostile, rather than assertive; fearless instead of brave. Traditional cultures always associate health with balance. We may catch up with that tradition.
We have already recorded personality profiles characteristic to many illnesses. (B/M, Vol. 2, 4d). Personality profiles might already serve to predict disease prone, or at risk persons. Researches have linked precursors to many illnesses: mononucleosis to stress in school; herpes to loneliness; positive mood, hope and social support to cancer survival; tough mindedness and a will to live with AIDS survival. If only people would start using this!
Hans Selye introduced stress as a factor effecting health. "Selye's lifetime of ground breaking research culminated in a theory of how mental and/or physical stress is transduced into psychosomatic problems by hormones of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis of the endocrine system" (Rossi, 1986). Scharrers (1940) and Harris (1948) confirmed and expanded Selye's work. They gave us the discovery that "secretory cells within the hypothalamus could convert neural impulses that encoded mind into the hormonal messenger molecules of the endocrine system that regulated body." (Rossi, 1986).
In the August 31st issue of Science News (1991), Sheldon Cohen, of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, reported a study that links emotional stress to the common cold. "Cohen's group found that the rates of respiratory infection and colds increased in accordance with stress levels reported on questionnaires... The (stress) pattern held despite statistical controls for various influences on immune function, including age, sex, education, allergies, weight, viral status prior to the study, cigarettes and alcohol, exercise, diet, quality of sleep, number of housemates, and housemate infection rates. The link between stress and colds also proved to be true independent of the personality characteristics assessed by questionnaires" (p. 132).
Life's various circumstances connect with wellness. An Ohio State University researcher reported that marital stress weakened the immune response. (BMB, Vol 13, 8G). George Soloman of UCLA fathered the concept of psycho-neuro-immunology. He also reports that the stress and strain of life crises "states" diminished the immune response. (BMB, Vol. 13, 8G). Ted Melnechuk, director of research communications for the Institute For The Advancement Of Health adds the following observations:
Dr. Henry Bennett at the University of California Medical School at Davis believes that he can demonstrate the connection of the bio-chemical stress hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine and vasopressin --- to more than just the immune system. Bennett plans to study the degrees of stress as they relate to the degree of memory. He expects to find a strong relationship. He has cited evidence that these hormones have something to do with consolidating memories (Locke & Colligan, 1986). Now remember that. I believe that this, added to our other data, will become more significant.
During the years 1988 and 1989 Dr. Robert Youngblood, a cosmetic surgeon, employed a subliminal audio cassette that I made to lower stress and anxiety in patients about to undergo surgical operations. We hypothesized that lowering patient stress, anxiety and associated feelings would result in lowering anesthetic requirements. He examined the records of 360 patients who had undergone the same or similar surgical procedures to determine total anesthetic usage. Our hypothesis proved valid.
He applied the audio cassette during pre and post operative procedures and throughout surgery. The overall anesthetic requirement declined by 32% in the patient group that received the subliminal tape. Thus, group B, our experimental group which also consisted of 360 patients, required almost 1/3rd less medication (anesthetic) than did group A, our historical control group. On analysis, another result emerged. The post secondary care requirement also substantially declined.
We conducted a study at a medical facility in Nevada. Their facilities offer a number of different "high tech" procedures including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This test allows 3D pictures of the inside of the body, including soft tissue. No other test can offer information that it can give. MRI requires that one be "loaded down a skid into a chamber," in the words of one of their techs. They have to put patients slowly through a long very narrow complicated metal tube. Inevitably, some patient's fear closed in places. In addition, most patients have some anxiety about the shear quantity of high tech machinery, the sterile surroundings, the kinds of tests, medical care in general, and hospitals in particular. For a CAT scan, you just have to go through a ring. Some patients needed sedation even for that.
The medical facility asked us to create an audio tape that would ameliorate these conditions. We employed a combination of special frequencies designed to entrain the brain while stimulating certain effects, and added subliminal messages and guided imagery. The chief CT technician reported a complete elimination of phobic responses.
The mind, the brain, the brain/mind again altering the physical/emotional experience. While in Nevada, I learned that some hypnotists in Nevada apply hypnosis for breast enlargement. Where are the boundaries? Where should we make them?
Emotional states, such as grief, lower the immune response. (B/M, Vol. 2, 15b). Soviet scientists demonstrated the elimination of pleasurable feelings by the injection of blockers of natural brain opiates. Further, they linked negative emotions to the release of norepinephrine, a messenger biochemical known to suppress the immune system. (BMB, Vol 10, 2B). Positive emotions have proven to increase the immune response. (Locke & Colligan, 1986). In fact, epinephrin and nor-epinephrin, which act to turn up or down the immune system, have repeatedly displayed links to mood states. (Locke & Colligan, 1986). Dr. Ziad Kronfol observed that depressed patients have less responsive immune systems than those of normal individuals and relates this to stress hormones in the body (Locke & Colligan, 1986).
Candace Pert, chief of brain biochemistry for the National Institute of Mental Health, suggests that "emotions are the key to health." (BMB, Vol. 11, 4A). She and her colleague, Michael Ruff, have been working with Peptide T, one of the "messenger" molecules in the body that apparently converts emotions into physiological events. Drs. Pert and Ruff have found that this substance can help alleviate AIDS symptoms, stop the spread of the HIV virus and, in some cases, even neutralize its toxicity. Dr. Pert asserts that "the same chemicals that control mood in the brain control tissue integrity of the body." For Pert, it is clear that the immune system processes information, as does the nervous system. Neurology associates the limbic brain, rich in neuro-peptides, or messenger molecules, with emotion. Pert has discovered these substances, with their receptors, located throughout the body. Brain chemicals for the body?
Pert insists that "the emotions are not just in the brain; they're in the body." One peptide, CCK, forms a lining from the esophagus through the intestines and according to Pert may "explain why some people talk about gut feelings." Additionally, and all important as one of our clues, Pert insists that placebo analgesia, analgesia triggered by suggestion, is an altered state dependent on messenger molecules. Pert asserts that "even certain hormones, like insulin, have turned out to be part of the peptide system." Body chemicals for the brain?
Most people know of Pavlov's work. Pavlov rang a bell for his experimental dogs every time they were fed. He observed that, after some repetitions of this, the bell would ring and the dogs would salivate before the dispensation of food. In other words, the dogs were conditioned by association to salivate at the sound of the bell. This is known as associative conditioning.
Again, we find a physiological response to an idea. The dogs had not even smell, only the idea of food. Is it possible that classical conditioning is an element of wellness? What is classical conditioning?
In the mid-1970's Robert Ader conducted a series of experiments that may further enlighten us at this point. Ader conducted associative conditioning with rats, attempting to condition them to an aversion to saccharin in their water. After the animals drank the water, Ader injected them with a drug, cyclophosphamide. While harmless in itself, cyclophosphamide produces nausea. The rats would associate the nausea with the saccharine. Then they would avoid it.
During this experiment many of the rats died. This was totally unexpected. Rats can drink enough saccharine to make you vomit for months without any ill effect. After careful review, Ader discovered that cyclophosphamide could powerfully suppress immune responses. Had he inadvertently conditioned the rats's immune system? At some points in the experiment, the rats had to drink saccharin water. Did the rats immune system respond to this as if to the drug? Was it possible to condition a suppression of the immune system? Ader decided, "Yes." He later discovered that two soviet scientists had conditioned a guinea pig "to release antibodies when they scratched its skin." (Locke & Colligan, 1986).
David Phillips at the University of California, San Diego, in a new study just hitting the headlines, evaluated the beliefs of individuals associated with death. His study compared Oriental people born under a rising sign (astrological sign), which allegedly provided them with certain resistances and weakness in relationship to various diseases such as cancer or cardiac difficulties, with caucasians born under the same sign but without the same belief. His statistical findings demonstrated that belief influences the outcome of certain diseases and can lead to early death.
We have our own conditioning. Could many of us experience miraculous healing or super longevity and wellness except for our conditioning? Television commercials tell us the cold season has come. Advertising gives us, and our families, the expectation to catch this and that. Health professionals, with the best intentions, spread most of the ideas supporting all this. Did we ever get sick because something taught us to? We know that the pathogens that "cause" illness are "real." But can the individual have ultimate control as to how the body will respond?
The mind can respond to classical conditioning techniques. Can the body? Or can the mind transfer this information into the body? That could cause responses as though some absent agent were present. That could also cause immune reactions to skin scratching. We must conclude that at least some organs and systems of the body, besides the brain or with the brain, can be conditioned or even learn.
Psychologist Ernest Rossi's research convinced him that "human beings cannot always rely on "nature" to reinstate health because certain short-term responses can become habitual and pathological." Rossi believes that mental events can imprint themselves in the body as disease and chronic conditions. Originally, this "learned-state" helped us to cope with a particular situation. However, when similar situations occur, we may automatically react the same way we did the first time, even though we could make better choices.
In order to avoid a particular situation an individual may become ill. However, rather than relating the illness to that situation, the individual could associate it to the time of year, a certain food, a particular fragrance, etc. (Rossi, 1986). A seasonal cold may come from such an association. The association triggers that past state of mind, which triggers that state of illness - or health. The change of season started the chain.
We do not recall the association. We just respond to it. Amnesia conceals this process of "state-dependent learning." A multiple personality's shift to an entirely different set of memories about who they are? That will serve at least as the ultimate example.
How can we unbind the state? Are we any closer to solving the mystery?
Dr. Charles McCusker, a clinical psychologist, and I proposed in 1987 that a value system is anchored along a strategy calculus that segments itself according to value/state learnings or conditionings. A value norm anchor point along the scale contains memory-state conditioning that, when accessed, gives rise to the production of feelings and strategies originally experienced as a part of the conditioning event that produced the anchor point in the first place.
At the annual SKY Foundation's convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1990) I met a fellow presenter, Dr. Joel Posner, a professor of physiology. He was speaking on yoga and longevity. He emphatically stated that research clearly demonstrates that the cells of the body have a life expectancy of 144 years. The body should not therefore die for at least 144 years unless the mind somehow interferes with the natural pattern of the cell. Incredible?
When subjects in their seventies exercise at the same level as subjects in their twenties, both groups grow the same amount of muscle mass (Posner, 1990, private communication). Use it or lose it. But what value norm system, or anchor point, conditions us to accept age as synonymous with decay? How may we decondition this association? What experiences, including expectation or attitude, defeat the natural life expectancy displayed by our cells? We apply diet and drugs and other physical factors to stay healthy. How can we apply the essential mental features to wellness and longevity?
A Healthy World
Many cultures have myths of miraculous healings, and of a time when we lived hundreds of years. Humans expected vitality and longevity. Could expectation do it? Did the myth of disease replace the myth of wellness? Do we expect to get sick, become ill, decay, go senile, and die early? Does a self fulfilling prophecy limit our time here on earth to a fraction of the 144 years the cell expects to maintain perfect life?
How many of us expect illness as a normal course of events in the path of our lives? How many of us learned getting sick each year? How much of an investment do each of us and our society at large have in the "illness" paradigm? Can we stay well for all of life---for whatever period of time that may naturally last? Is it responsible to suggest such an idea? What would happen if all of us shifted our beliefs and energies and other investments into a mode of expected wellness? Would that make the world a healthier place?
Imagine a world free from television commercials selling remedies for the dreaded annual maladies. No more constipation commercials. No more hemorrhoid commercials. No more "the world sucks, take a pill and numb out the bad times before you die." Not from television, or radio, or print. No conversation about preparing for illness, physical and mental disabilities as we grow older. What if we didn't have a world of afflictions to discuss, ponder and otherwise expend our energies? Does all of this really even matter? Is it relevant to health and wellness? Truly relevant?
A Sufi Story
The Sufi's have a story about time and pomegranates. A young man desired to become a healer in a far away land of days long ago. He knew of a legendary healer who he wished to learn from. He therefore set out on a journey to find the healer and entreat upon him for the secrets to his practice. After a long and trying journey he finally found the healer and without hesitation approached him. The healer observed the boy's sincerity and decided to take him on as a student. After long training, the two sat together on the porch of the healer's modest home. A stranger approached from the distance. He was bent over and hobbled in an odd and peculiar manner. The healer said to his student, "See that man approaching --- he needs pomegranates." The young man observed as the healer listened to the patient tell an agonizing tale of woeful experiences with his infliction, including the struggle to make the journey to the healer's doorstep. Finally, the healer put his hand on the patient's shoulder and spoke softly, "Yes, I can see you have suffered. I can see you are ready to leave your illness behind. My friend, I am certain that your disease is due to a shortage of a particular substance available in high concentrations in pomegranates. Eat three pomegranates a day for the next week and your health will return."
The patient left. After three weeks he returned, standing erect, with a basket of food, and deeply grateful blessings, for the healer.
Within another week another stranger came down the road to the healer's home. He walked in the same odd and peculiar manner and was also bent over. The student noticed the stranger and excitedly said, "What he needs is pomegranates!" The healer nodded without looking up from his chair. The student pleaded with the healer to allow him to treat the patient. Finally the healer agreed. The student went out to meet the patient. The student blurted, "What you need is pomegranates!" The stranger looked upon the student and said, "I came all this way for this nonsense! Pomegranates - rubbish! Some healer you are!" He turned and went away.
One moral to this story has to do with the expectation factor of the patient. The student did not understand the necessity of timing. The student entirely overlooked the afflicted person's expectation of the great healer and his ability to tell of his suffering and finally find relief. The student had taken only a mechanical learning from the healer. He assumed that pomegranates really held some substance entirely curative in and of itself. Perhaps both the expectations of the student healer and the patient met with disappointment.
Read it and Reap
In the spring of 1991 I conducted a study with physicians. They had provided their patients with a note authorizing Progressive Awareness Research to provide them with the experimental subliminal program Cancer Remission. The study would compare life expectancy with actual mortality of patients with cancer who used the tape.
We sent a questionnaire to physicians whose patients had received the subliminal program two to four years prior. It had 12 questions, with instructions to rate each on a five point differential as: 1 strongly disagree; 2 disagree; 3 neutral; 4 agree; and 5 strongly agree. We subdivided the twelve questions into four general categories: A. patient's attitude toward their disease on a pre-tape basis; B. patient's attitude toward their disease on a post-tape basis; C. patient's survival and quality of life; and D. physician's attitude toward their patients involvement with regard to the mind's role in wellness. We have the study in press now.
The findings include significant remission rates. 38% of the patients were in remission at the time of this writing.
Another overwhelmingly obvious statistic jumped out at us. It surprised us. I think it would surprise nearly anyone. Of the four sub-categories, which do you think would most reliably indicate the improved life expectancies and remission rates of the patients?
Most people say the patient's attitude. That even includes most people who maintain that a terminal disease, such as cancer, will not respond to the patient's attitude. However, the patient's reported attitude did not have the most powerful influence over the length of the patients's lives.
Patients lived and died primarily by the physician's attitude! If the physician rated the patients involvement with the subliminal tape and mental approaches as 3 or less on our scale, the patient died. The patient died regardless of their treatment procedure (radiation, chemotherapy, etc.). The patient died regardless of their initial mind-set in terms of their positive adjustment to the disease or its ultimate outcome. If the physician responded neutral to negative with respect to the mind's role, the patient died.
Apparently the attitude of others in authority around us may bring victory or defeat to our own natural health. What is this power of authority about? How do we learn to imitate or act so as to please an authority as a priority more important than life? A physician's prognosis of terminal may itself deliver the terminal blow. Do each of us rely so totally on the opinion of professionals that we fulfill their expectation even into suffering and death?
We narrowed our analysis to exclude the physicians neutral to negative. That left patients with physicians positive about the mind's role in wellness. The survival/remission rate increased to 46%. We further narrowed our analysis to patients whose physician's responded with the score of 5 on our rating scale. These physicians strongly agree that the mind or attitude of the patient influences health and health care. The survival/remission rate increased to 60%. We finally narrowed our analysis to only the data from patients and physicians who shared strong agreement to the mind's role in wellness. We found a survivability/ remission experience rate of 100%!
Notice I used "experience rate" in this last category. Two of the patients died of other causes during the study. Nevertheless, they experienced remission and outlived their prognosis by 3 years.
Our study suggests that health care requires alignment of patient and physician, rather than mere cooperation.
Mental characteristics influence health. We can expect memory to play a role. Memory of health works as a magic key.
Dr. Deepak Chopra argues in his marvelous work Quantum Healing (1989), that patients at the edge of despair, struggling for hope, can replace fear and uncertainty with the memory of health and "the moment when the memory of health returns and brings with it enough power to last a lifetime," they experience spontaneous regression of a disease.
I remember jubilation when I read that PET scans had confirmed a crucial role for the hippocampus in memory. Memory was normally thought to be stored in the cortex and hypothalamus. The hippocampic- limbic system was viewed as controlling the peripheral nervous system, endocrine and immune systems. Here, published in the November 23rd, 1991 Science News, was the announcement "the first evidence in living brains that the hippocampus - a banana shaped region deep within the brain - plays a key role in memory." This involves memory directly with the modulator of the immune system.
This does not reduce the importance of the hypothalamus in memory. The literature shows the relationship between emotional memories and hypothalamic functions. This adds yet another piece to the puzzle. What anatomy determines the relationship between memory and wellness? This is an important piece. It strongly suggests hypocampic-limbic transfer of what we have defined as cerebral or cortical information. The hypocampic region may contain a trigger that takes mental processes and transduces or converts them into body processes. It may also maintain some priority system, with self-preservation near the top of the heirachy.
This established a hard wire connection between brain events (memory) and the immune system. We should expect memory of wellness to contribute to health. Then, we should also expect this to contribute to longevity. Right after thrilling to the Science News article, a friend brought me another article. He knew that I was going to give a presentation in Israel on Memory Dependent Wellness, and that I had started a research project on remembering youth.
The article headed with the caption, Reversing The Clock. It went on to describe a landmark research project by Dr. Ellen Langer of Harvard University. Participants reversed some characteristics of aging. Dr. Langer took "old people" into the country where they stayed isolated for one week. The older persons spent time with "photographs, discussions, newspapers, radio, music and even advertisements that were strictly limited to topics current 20 years earlier. At the end of the week, the group became younger looking by three years, gained weight, behaved more independently and could actually hear better." (Patel, Body, Mind, Spirit, February 1992). Memory --relived! Youth - revivified?
I can only understate the importance of the memory of health to wellness - no matter how much enthusiasm I muster!
Dictionaries define beliefs as "that which we hold as truth." We might think of them as a sort of super-memory. Ornstein writes that "the brain works by constructing a reality from a narrow trickle of information received, reduced and filtered through the senses... these constructed beliefs, many based on denial and illusion, have adaptive value" (Ornstein and Sobel, 1987).
Even the most fanatical scoffers tend to admit the importance of hope. Perhaps that happens because everyone knows what helplessness means. I don't think we know enough.
Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania conditioned dogs in a sling with electric shock, under circumstances where they could not escape. Later, they did not try to escape, even when they could. They suffered shocks on a grid where they could have escaped. They simply accepted the shocks, whimpered a lot, but made no attempt to help themselves. Dogs not so conditioned would move a few feet from the grid.
As you may have guessed, the animals whose conditioning gave rise to behavior of a helpless sort, also experienced suppression of their immune system. (Locke & Colligan, 1986). Here lies another partial explanation for our finding regarding the physician's attitude and the patient's life expectancy. Some people act like the whimpering shocked dog Seligman discovered in his research. The conditioned dog, patient, immune system; the hopeless, helpless behavior of the conditioned dog, patient, immune system.
What does hopeful mean? Skip false hope. We want good, sound, productive hope with plenty of muscle to it. Stories indicate that people who have hope, who look at life from the perspective that all will ultimately work out for the best, live happier and healthier lives. Optimism works.
In all the cases of remission, extended optimal health, miraculous healings and the like, one thing seems to be present always. We could call this one thing our known common denominator. That one magic bullet---BELIEF! For some this means belief in their own higher power, for others it means knowing wellness will return, for still others, it joins with the touch of a healer. Always, there is TRUE BELIEF.
Belief is not stagnant. Belief is dynamic. It reveals itself daily in the way everyone conducts their own lives. Active, it creates expectation. I tend to use the word expectation more even than hope. It implies anticipation, it implies the imminent fulfillment of hope. We re-enforce it over and over again when we rely upon it each day. Each of us can thoroughly instill belief in ourselves. Do that - in every sense of the phrase.
Some may argue that all this sounds like a placebo. That supplies nonsense arguments for uninformed "would-be" academics. The fact is, you can experience medication, or any other treatment care, and know something happened as a result. Something out of the ordinary. Something not experienced routinely, something not experienced without the medication or care. Experience instills belief. It's that simple.
Belief may produce magic. Many refer to placebo with disgust: the infamous sugar pill trick. These so infamous effects remain absolutely real. Patients get suddenly well due to the influence of a sugar pill. In true placebo findings, a patient indeed suffered physical illness. Tests attest to this. The belief in the "pill" as some new and potent medication produces a complete reversal in the body. The individual is healed. Do patients ever suffer for no more than a need to believe in healing?
Why shame such a marvelous intrigue of the human experience? We have all heard remarks like, "It only works if you believe it." Even this refutes the mechanistic reductionism that limits our ability to experience the majesty of the highest character of humanness. Good scientific double blind studies, clinical findings, and other hard science that so many of us pledge to, demonstrate clearly the mind-body reality in wellness and longevity. Power that science with your belief. Each of us can power the new model, the new vitality, with the same force of belief!
What it's About
A childhood story of myself; scientific findings with multiple personality patients manifesting different physiological conditions; miraculous healings in the ancient temples of Asclepias; the attitudinal and arts and entertainment work of men like Jampolski and Cousins; the genetic engineer's perspective of Lipton; and more. We have barely begun the mind-body connection to wellness and longevity.
What can we say for certain? Mechanical orthodoxy attributes autonomy to the immune system. Suppose the body is mechanical and maintains health strictly through some mind independent way. Then we have a vast number of white crows present that we have to ignore.
Some of us will do just that---ignore! Recall the conditioned dog, patient, immune system, the hopeless/helpless behavior of the conditioned dog, patient, immune system. Even when we know what we can do, we don't have to. But we must. Really, we must.
You can take the same position I did. The pragmatist says, "The proof is in the pudding and what have I got to lose?" You can expect to experience a life of health and wellness and see what happens. You can try accepting the responsibility for your own well being. Ask yourself simple questions if you sense or feel a sickness coming on. The best ones I have found are; What am I getting out of this, What is the conflict and Who would I blame? We can take responsibility for health and use a health care professional who shares the mind-body experience as the truly miraculous wonder that it is.
I decided that maybe I had a share in my illnesses, especially those pesky regular bouts with sore throats, colds, influenza and the like. As a pragmatist, I decided to try it out. Maybe I created, at some level of my being, discomfort known as illness. Then it occurred to me, "Hey---wait a minute. Am I really ready to give up all those comforts that accompany the sickness? All those advantages like added attention from loved ones, time off with pay, laying around with a good book or a good movie, some soaking in the tub and doing nothing? Did I really want to give all that up?" I could see that sickness was not all bad. I got something from being ill.
One can recognize benefits from illness. Does that mean one can control illness? Many of the conflicts dealt with in life get shuffled into matters which become submerged in the subconscious. Research in this area, like the work of Benjamin Libet, even indicates that subconscious processes precede all conscious awareness. What if I fail to remember a state bound memory which produces a physical illness? How can I access this memory? How can I alter it? How can I take charge of something out of my awareness?
In 1982 I decided to try. In 1982 I decided, just for me, that if I wanted a break, time off, an end to conflict, to hide from something or someone, some special attention, I would use more productive and fun ways to enjoy these pleasures than getting sick. My annual average of 4 to 6 bouts with this and that affliction stopped. Only twice since then have I been ill. In both instances, I found a reason and remembered wellness. I left the illness behind in only a fraction of the time considered normal. That's a lot of remedies that I haven't bought. That's a lot of kleenex that I haven't used.
In 1987 a gentlemen flew in to see Dr. Robert Youngblood and myself. A terminal degenerative disease confined his son to a wheelchair. In my book Subliminal Learning (1988) you can find a picture of this young man walking up a flight of stairs. In my office I have a more recent picture of him, standing beside his car, holding up his driver's license.
We theorized that this young man's illness derived from a mechanism to produce the attention he had experienced at birth due to a minor birth defect corrected, by tracheotomy, at the age of two. Following the total restoration of his health a younger sister was born.
She became the center of attention. Illness had provided the mechanism for attention from birth to two years of age. The onset of his disease followed the birth of his younger sister by a few months. The theory seemed to offer a possible hypothesis for the boy's illness. With this hypothesis we approached the boy's health issue via a subliminal intervention program.
We observed what could be fairly termed as a true regression in the young man, where he returned physically and mentally to a time in his life when he suffered from his birth defect. The regression was so complete, that circumstances were created where a second tracheotomy was required. Just as with the first at age two, the surgery was followed by a regenerating strength, which has continued to this day. A subconscious motive treated with a subconscious modality - that of subliminal communication. Coincidence? You can find the case study and details in my book.
Even though I witnessed the event, even planned the approach, it still intrigued and amazed me. Is this healing process possible for everyone? I believe so.
Learning, behavior and personality all tangle together in illness. Cousins writes in The Anatomy Of An Illness that he healed himself of a terminal condition in just this vein. Bernie Siegel, M.D. has written about such ideas in Love Medicine And Miracles, and his other fine books. Jampolski asserts that attitudinal directions can and do heal in his works, Love Is Letting Go Of Fear and Teach Only Love (1981 & 1983). His attitudinal healing center in California has become famous for this genre of healing.
Perhaps I have saved the best for last. Jampolski points out that patients in incontractable pain "forget" their pain when they go to the aid of another patient in an urgent situation. My own work supports this. I have referred to "the warm, fuzzy, fully feeling human experience," to describe that sense each of us has experienced when we have gone to the aid of an injured life form. At that moment, we so fully feel the "fuzzy stuff" that glows within us that we become lost in the event; submerged, if you will, in our concern for another. Not only does this experience exclude sensations and fear of pain and discomfort, it lives on in us as the highest expression of human activity. In short, it feels so good, so natural, so "warm and fuzzy." We enjoy remembering it. Serving others is generally the most rewarding of all our activities.
Personality, hypnosis, multiple personality divisions, needs, emotions, fears, all of these things effect wellness in dramatic ways. From body catalepsy to ending paralysis through an altered state of mind (hypnosis), a healthy individual to a chronic hypoglycemic via a personality shift, an illness or dysfunction due to behavioral characteristics inherent to personality strategies or avoidance mechanisms---is all of this possible? Could it be that wellness is itself inherent to "mindedness?" If emotion, learning, behavior and personality are all tied up in wellness, then how we learn to act and think and feel is crucial.
Our clues to the mind's role in wellness and longevity include: 1. the memory of health, actively applied; 2. emotions - preferably positive, and expressed in productive ways; 3. a hopeful vs. helpless attitude; 4. the benefits of illness vs. health; 5. social support and nurturance; 6. the attitudes and expectations of the patient and caregivers; 7. belief in healing and a way to achieve it; 8. the conditioning of the immune system; 9. avoiding stress, and dealing with it; and 10. service.
Take a few main points for application. First, without a doubt, the mind connects to wellness! Further, the personality, mood states and the attitude of an individual are related directly to various forms of illness. Second, the level of willingness a patient assumes for their own care directly relates to their recovery. Third, the expectation factor, whether of the physician to the patient or of the patient independent of the health care provider, directly relates to wellness and recovery. Fourth, for health to be restored, the individual must often return "mentally" to times before the illness.
Memories of wellness can regenerate us, as suggested by the words of Chopra, and wellness ensues. Therefore, give yourself strong memories of wellness. Encourage remembering wellness during any period of disease. Hypnosis has proven effective over many diseases. It proves more broadly effective if it incorporates regression to a state of "health" memories.
Belief can apply to the future more than memory. Of course we have beliefs about the past. These have less importance. Our beliefs about the future determine our choices and attitudes. Collect worthwhile beliefs.
My work has led me to believe, especially on the basis of findings with interventions, that psychological events start most disease. These events anchor on usually subliminal calculations of values. That generates automatic coordinated responses, a gestalt response, to the event. The calculation ascribes utility to the disease.
We can make a formula for the mind's interface with the body. Use W to represent wellness and E to represent expectation. Expectation means a dynamic form of true belief, directed to the future and connected with emotion, some strong anticipation at the very least. Use M to represent memory. Then W=EM. Wellness equals Expectation multiplied by, or emersed in, Memory of wellness. That puts memories and expectations, your past and future, together. To multiply in this equation, the memory of wellness should revivify you and project solidly into expectation. The hit and miss record of visualization depends partly on finding powerful "memory" variables. As Maltz (1960) suggests, a reverie generated during visualization actually works as real for some due to the incorporation of memory. It fails for others because of the absence of sufficient detail or emotional intensity for it to become "real."
I used forensic hypnosis in investigations for years. On many occasions I witnessed a revivified, fully remembered, experience translate meaning through the body. Take this example. A young man had been held up at gun point. He talked to detectives at Sandy City Police Department after the robbery. He could only tell them that a "very big gun" was shoved in his face. Under hypnosis I had him replay the incident in his mind, in slow motion, freezing some frames just as you would on a video tape. In this state of consciousness he fully detailed descriptions of the suspects and their automobile. When the film came to the gun in the victim's face, I thought his artery would jump out of his throat. I had to fast forward the film and assure him that it was only a replay. Otherwise it appeared that he could literally experience a heart attack under the stress of the memory, for that is indeed what we dealt with. I remember that vividly. When I say, revivify a memory, I mean bring it fully alive and into the now.
Alright now, what can each of us do right now with what we have discovered? Let's go through some simple things.
First, pick a time in your life when life was wonderful. You felt great! It was an optimal period of well being. Remember, this is your memory of a time, or your tale of a time, that you are going to remember and enrich with feelings and emotions appropriate to that time. If you have pictures, recordings, or what not of that period, get them out and surround yourself with them. I got music selections from the sixties and the next thing I knew, I found myself bouncing around like a teenager in the hey day of rock-n-roll. Of course I felt good -- every cell in my body enthused with me. You try it with your own period of time but remember, choose an optimal period. Merge a few of your best. Remember, fully revivify an era where you were at your best! Second, laugh and smile. Do whatever you need to do. Play old funny movies, watch a stand up comic, go to the park and play with your dog, or so on; but laugh. Start by smiling even if you have to force it. The brain doesn't know you are faking the smile. The pure mechanics of contorting the face into a smile causes the brain to release chemicals that naturally improve the way you feel. So fake it until you make it if necessary, but smile! Third, get some sunlight and fresh air like you did when you were a child. Breathe deeply and evenly. Take a walk, do some exercise, but get outdoors. Remember your youth. Fourth do your emotional work. Let go of blame, shame, guilt and the like. Be happy. Finally, after you've taken care of yourself, do things to take care of others.
The role of behavior and memory play significant parts in the drama of dis-ease. Subliminal beliefs may actually choose the type of illness one experiences. Conditioning can alter the experience and susceptibility one has with or toward disease. Training the whole mind can increase vitality and promote longevity.
The role of mind as creator dictates that training the mind, conditioning the mind, has as much importance as teaching motor skills, writing and math, or higher learning. This aspect of the human condition, in our culture, has been traditionally overlooked, ignored, and even denied.
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