LOS ALTOS, CA, May 9, 2013 – For Lissa Rankin, the driving force behind her just-released book, Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, was a deep desire to present the subject of mind-body healing in a way that would be both accepted and understood by doctors and patients alike.
Dedicated to her father – a man she described in a recent conversation I had with her as “a very skeptical, Western-trained physician who made fun of anything he considered even remotely New Age” – she knew that despite her credentials as an accomplished OB/GYN, it would be essential for her to make her case so bullet-proof that no one would be able to deny the veracity of what she was saying about the impact of our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions on our health.
One of the turning points in Rankin’s journey from conventional to mind-body medicine came when she ran across a 1957 case study involving a man being treated for advanced cancer.
Convinced that an experimental drug was the only thing that could save him from imminent death, he pleaded with his doctor to administer the untested medicine. When he did, the man’s condition improved noticeably, with large tumors “[melting] like snowballs on a hot stove” within just a few days.
Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse when the man read reports that the drug wasn’t as effective as originally reported. He became depressed and his cancer returned.
At this point the man’s doctor tried something unorthodox. He told his patient that the original batch of the drug had deteriorated and that he had just received a new, highly concentrated batch, which he would give him. This time, however, the doctor injected the man with nothing but distilled water. The man’s tumors disappeared and he was again on the road to recovery. However, once a new study was published saying that this drug was completely worthless, the man’s cancer returned and he died two days later.
“When I read this, I thought, ‘Yeah, right’,” writes Rankin in her book. “Surely, this case study couldn’t be true. How could cancerous tumors just ‘melt like snowballs’ in response to an injection of water?”
However, rather than dismissing the study out of hand or seeing its potential implications as a threat to her decades-long grounding in allopathic medicine, Rankin’s demand for an explanation launched her on a journey of discovery that has now convinced her that “Caring for the body is,” as she told me, “the least important part of your health.”
“I’m curious. And when I’m curious about something, I go looking for answers,” she said.
One incident that propelled Rankin’s search forward involved a patient of hers suffering from a blood condition that no one was able to diagnose.
Knowing that this woman had been through a traumatic childhood experience, she felt impelled to lead her through a kind of Shamanic ritual, despite the fact that Rankin had never been formally trained in this discipline.
“I did this exercise with her where I was on the floor on a yoga mat and I had her lying with her back towards me and her head on my chest,” she told me. “I’m like, ‘This is not what I normally do with patients.’
“She started seizing, and I was terrified. I almost called 911 because her whole body was shaking so hard. I didn’t know what was happening, but the voice in my head said, ‘She’s safe. Just hold this space.’ This went on for about 30 minutes.
“Afterwards, I asked her what happened and she said, ‘I’ve just been freed.’ That was two years ago and she’s never had an infusion since.
“I can’t explain that. All I can say is that no other doctor had been able to figure out what was wrong with her and this one very divinely led experience cured her.”
Finding ways to explain how anyone can heal themselves and even help heal others through predominantly, if not exclusively, mental means is what Rankin’s book is all about. However, rather than taking the kind of superficial approach often employed by similar self-help books, Mind Over Medicine draws on hundreds of scientific studies, all supporting the idea that it’s not diet, exercise, or even DNA, but what’s going on in the individual’s thought that is the most important factor to be addressed.
One of the most compelling of these studies has to do with the impact of superstition on health.
A group of researchers in San Diego compared the death records of almost 30,000 Chinese-Americans with those of over 400,000 randomly selected Caucasians. What they discovered was that the Chinese-Americans died as much as five years earlier than the rest, if they were not only sick but also happened to be born in a year that Chinese astrology and Chinese medicine consider ill-fated.
“The researchers concluded that they died younger, not because they had Chinese genes, but because they had Chinese beliefs,” writes Rankin.
As I read this, I couldn’t help but wonder what other beliefs – what other superstitions – might also be having an adverse impact on our health, both individually and collectively. It also makes you wonder whether the ultimate remedy lies in simply changing what the human mind believes or being open to a more divinely inspired or Mind-based solution, like the one hinted at in Rankin’s account of the woman relieved of a serious blood condition.
“I’m curious about the capacity for things like that to happen,” said Rankin.
Indeed, shouldn’t we all be?
Not only does her book make the world of mind-body healing comprehensible to the average reader, it also lays the groundwork for what will certainly be other books drawing on Rankin’s continued research, experience, and enthusiasm for this prescient and increasingly practical field of medicine.
Eric Nelson is a Christian Science practitioner, whose articles on the link between consciousness and health appear regularly in a number of local, regional, and national online publications. He also serves as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California.
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