I recently sat talking to a lady who had completed a free course for people with chronic health conditions provided by the local hospital. Her opinion was summed up as “It’s ok if you believe you can think yourself healthy”. It was not the time or place to question that, but it was interesting to hear her opinions. On the face of it the course had covered many of the things we include on our courses. However, this lady had obviously discarded much of the content as it had failed to open her mind to the possibility that her thoughts do effect her health.
The lady did go on to mention that at least one member of the group seemed to have their own agenda, interrupting others when they spoke and attempting to monopolise the conversation. This of course is the draw back of free courses put on by the public health system, by their nature they are open to anyone with the relevant condition, so it becomes a matter of chance whether you get a group of like minded individuals who support and revel in each others success or a group closed or scared of the fact that their thoughts and emotions effect their physical health.
Many people argue that if a process works it does not matter whether you believe in it or not, although that opinion is dis-proven by most drug research. For a change I wont go on to talk about the placebo effect but rather tell a story often told by those with an interest in hypnotherapy. In Auo. 23, 1952 the British Medical Journal printed an article entitled “A case of -congenital ictrhyosiform erythriodermia of brocq treated by hypnosis”. The article described how Dr Mason treated a boy who he believed had an extreme case of warts using hypnosis. The warts originally covered much of the boys skin, for example it was recorded that 80% of the boys arms were covered. However, 10 days after a session of hypnosis using suggestions that the skin would heal 95% of the arm was clear. Other areas of the body responded with vary success rates too. This in itself may not have surprised Dr Mason if it had not been for the fact that the boy did not have warts but a genetic condition known as congenital ictrhyosiform erythriodermia known at the time to be ‘untreatable’.
Interestingly I have heard it said that Dr Mason went on to try and help many people with that condition with far less satisfactory results. When asked about this Dr Mason believed that his lack of success with other patients stemmed from his knowledge that he was now treating a condition known to be ‘untreatable’ and the seed of doubt that created in his mind.
I do think that is a nice story and it goes some way to explain why we think belief in the process is important. Hence we do our best to ensure that by the time you get on one of our courses you have the belief that that you can improve and the course will help.