THE HEALING POWER OF BELIEF
For the past two years, I have been studying cancer survivors at UCLA, trying to find out why it is that some people respond much better to their treatment than do others. At first, I thought that some patients did well because their illnesses were not as severe as the illnesses of others. On closer scrutiny, however, I discovered that severity of the illness was only one of a number of factors that accounted for the difference between those who get well and those who don’t.
The patients I am talking about here received, upon diagnosis, whatever therapy – medication, radiation, surgery – their individual cases demanded. Yet, the response to such treatments was hardly uniform. Some patients fared much better in their therapies than others. What was it, then, that was different?
Was there any one thing that all survivors had in common? Yes.
I have found that the major characteristics of these survivors were very similar. Among the similarities are:
* They all had a strong will to live.
• They were not panicky about their illness.
• They had confidence in their ability to persevere.
• Despite all the forecasts to the contrary, they believed they could make it.
• They were capable of joyous response.
• They were convinced that their treatment would work.
The Placebo Effect
The mind-body effect should not be surprising in view of the experience over the years with placebos. The temi ‘placebo’ is used to describe a ‘pill’ that contains no medical ingredients but that often produces the same effect as genuine medication.
Placebos provide ample proof that expectations can have an effect on body chemistry. According to a recent article on placebos in Medical World News, studies conducted over the past years have shown that placebos satisfactorily relieved symptoms in an average of 35 per cent of patients tested.
These symptoms include: fever, severe post-operative pain, anginal pain, headache, and anxiety, among other complaints. The explanation for this strange phenomenon is that the human mind can create actual changes in body chemistry as a result of what it believes. If, for example, a person believes that a certain medication contains a substance that can accomplish a specific need, the body tends to move in that direction.
An increasing number of scientists now contend that the body’s healing system and its belief system are closely related. That is why hope, faith, and the will to live can be vital factors in the struggle against disease. The belief system converts positive expectations into plus factors in any contest against illness.
A. What do the following refer to?
1. ‘such treatments’ (line 10):
2. ‘this strange phenomenon’ (line 35):
B. Fill in the blanks with the words from the passage.
1. is very careful study or observation. (Paragraph 1)
2. If you , you keep trying and do not give up. (Paragraph 2)
3. Something that is is real and exactly what it appears to be, and is not fake or imitation. (Paragraph 3)
4. (A) of something is evidence or facts showing that it is true or that it exists. (Paragraph 3)
5. is the determination to do something. (Paragraph 4)
6. A is a struggle to win power or control. (Paragraph 4)
1. At the beginning of his studies, how did the doctor explain the difference in the responses of patients?
2. What is a placebo?
3. Why is a patient who takes a placebo likely to get well?