Magick and the Physiology of Self-Healing
With humans there is also there is also the effect of emotions, beliefs, and culture to be taken into consideration. The most well known way this manifests is the ‘Placebo effect’ where people believe a certain treatment has had a beneficial effect regardless of whether actually has. Sometimes this effect is both obvious and measurable, and other times the person just feels better in themselves. One of the key tests for medicines and therapeutic treatments is that they give better results than the person being treated believes that they are receiving an effective cure and acting as if it was working. Since faith, like other emotions, is contagious, for a trial to be truly evidence-based even those administering the treatment don’t know if they are giving a placebo or an authentic treatment. This is to avoid the patients picking up cues from the people giving the treatment as to whether it is the genuine article or not.
Some people use this argument to say that complementary treatments are ‘all in the mind’ and have no real effect on a person. The best evidence to counter this comes from the examples of animal healing, be it conventional veterinary medicine, or one of the one of the many complimentary systems such as Homeopathy, Herbalism, and Radionics. In many cases the animals do get better, regardless of the beliefs of the owner, or in some cases the person giving the treatment! In the case of both human and other animals all healing can do is provide the best foundation for the body to heal itself.
What many people overlook, even those who practice healing or magick, is that people can learn to activate their own innate healing abilities as can many animals if they are shown how. In the 1920’s the Russian researchers S. Metal’nikov and V. Chorine conditioned a guinea pig to release antibodies when they scratched its skin using Pavlovian conditioning methods. Psychologists in the West found this happening in their experiments too, but this received more recognition in the 1960’s as a result of the rising popularity of biofeedback and meditation. I remember the consternation I caused my teacher in biology class when I showed that I could control my heart and pulse rate through use of my mind.
His belief was that heart beat was an autonomic system that could not be directly controlled by the mind, so you can imagine his surprise when we took each others pulse rate in the class and while most people had the same rate for the same person mine was anywhere from forty beats per minute up to 80. He even took it himself three times, and got a different result each time. It was simple to do through breathing and visualisation, but really shocked the teacher because it ran counter to what he had been taught and assumed. Eventually he decided that although a real result it could be discounted as only I could do it and, at the time, I didn’t have the skills to teach others in the class.
In the 1970’s the psychologist Robert Ader began to demonstrate a clear connection between conditioning and how a person’s mind could influence their wellbeing. He was the person who coined the term ‘Psychoneuro-immunology’ to describe how the mind can interact and effect the body, especially the immune system. Further information on the connection between personality and illness came from the psychologist Lawrence LeShan was able to demonstrate evidence based links between different types of personalities and the likelihood of their developing and surviving different types of cancer.
The physiological link between mind and body seems to be connected in the area of the hypothalamus, and the Pituitary gland. The Pituitary gland in many spiritual systems is considered the site, or physical focus of the ‘Third Eye’, and on the physical plane, manages the rest of the endocrine system through the secretion of several hormones. The Hypothalamus integrates the autonomic nervous system, and bodily function, along with things such as body temperature and hunger. In the 1960’s Russian researchers found that damage to specific areas of the hypothalamus produced specific changes in the immune system and, using MRI scans today, biofeedback researchers are building on this to teach people how to achieve the same effect through managing their blood flow to selective areas of the gland.
Another system that is becoming more popular is the use of magnetic fields for diagnosis and treatment of injury and disease. Heliobiology, the study of the Suns’ effect on the Earth’s magnetic fields and their consequent effects on human health, has been an officially recognised scientific field in Russia since 1968. Also the magnetic fields around the body, especially around key organs such as the heart, are starting to attract the attention of some medical scientists. Not least because the magnetic field of the some of the organs, such as the heart, are out of proportion to their perceived importance in allopathic (western medicine) tradition. However, some medical scientists are starting to explore this field. Magnetic generators, that mimic the Earth’s magnetic field, are now fitted to spacecraft carrying people in order to keep them healthy after it was discovered that it was necessary to human health when they are outside the embrace of the magnetic field that naturally exists on our planet. As work progresses we may well see the development of a worldview similar to that held by Mesmer and Paracelsus, who postulated that all things live in a magnetic ‘sea’ that had a profound effect on health and healing.
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