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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

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You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L Hay
You Can Heal Your Life

anonymous, February 23, 2009

The Psychological Side of Healing

"You Can Heal Your Life" is all about using your thoughts to fix the problems in your life. What kind of problems? Well, the book specifically looks into healing some pretty major life areas: relationships, work, success, prosperity, and your body. But wait a minute, did I say the book is using thoughts to heal your body? What's up with that? Is that even possible? Well, after reading this book, I think in many cases, yes, it is possible.

While I think it is the way to go to treat things such as an acute appendicitis with surgery, fractures with a cast, and pneumonia with antibiotics, there are many conditions where conventional medicine blatently falls short. Of course I'm talking about health problems such as migraines, backaches, or stomach ulcers- you know, those kinds of nagging disorders where we all know that stress/mental processes DO play a role. But while few would argue that psychological factors can cause an ulcer, what about more serious conditions such as, say, arthritis?

Well it may not be too far fetched. Consider this. One study of 1,198 subjects found that only 56% of men with SEVERE knee arthritis had any pain (Lawrence 1966). Another study X-rayed 84 seventy-nine year-olds and 76 eighty-five year-olds and found that only 43% of them with SEVERE knee arthritis had any pain complaints (Bagge 1991). There are plenty more examples in the scientific literature, but obviously there two alone show us that there is NO clear-cut association between severe knee arthritis and pain.

ON THE OTHER HAND, when one looks at the relationship between psychological variables and knee arthritis, one does see a clear association. For instance, one study looked at 65 patients (ages 55 to 87) with hip and/or knee arthritis. X-rays, pain, depression levels, anxiety levels, coping styles, and functional impairment were all assessed. The findings? Researchers discovered that the severity of one's arthritis showed little relationship to pain, BUT, psychological variables were strong predictors of who had pain and how impaired they were (Summers 1988).

Along the same lines, Salaffi examined 61 women (ages 51-79) with knee arthritis. Here again, results showed that how disabled someone was, was more related to psychological variables than how bad their knee looked on an X-ray film. Interestingly, both anxiety and depression WERE important predictors of pain (Salaffi 1991). Any one conducting a literature review on Medline will find more such examples IF you're looking for them. While I used knee arthritis as an example, there are MANY more studies on other health problems with similar findings.

All of this should be causing us to raise an eyebrow. The literature is telling us that it is far from being clear cut that things like bad knee arthritis ALWAYS mean pain. And the research is also giving us clues that the mind and our thought processes definitely play a role. So the question now becomes, if bad thought patterns can play a role in health problems such as arthritis, why not in other diseases such as cancer, as the book suggests?

You be the judge. I found that the main value in this book was getting me to look at how our thinking does influence the functioning of our bodies- as well as our life in general. Note that I'm NOT saying that you can think yourself well all the time either.

Remember that while Louise Hay did change her thought patterns and was cured of cancer, she has also written that she used other alternative treatments as well, such as foot reflexology and colon therapy (Chapter 16). Therefore, my advice is to look at ALL the options when dealing with a health problem, one MAJOR one being changing your mental patterns (which is the what the book does a nice job of addressing). And for this reason, I can recommend this book to anyone who needs physical healing or otherwise. Other alternative healing books of interest include "5-Minute Plantar Fasciitis Solution". Thank you Louise Hay!

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