Part One: Heresy?

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Image Thinking oneself into victory

You know when something niggles at the nook round the back of your mind caused by accumulation of non-urgent agenda items stored for further reflection? The moment arrives when some space-clearing is required and as things are quiet*, now seems the perfect time to think aloud and see where it leads.

Are you as muddled as us on the question of what Belief is and to what it refers?

Elite sportswo/men are taught visualization to ensure they see their victory: it’s a proven route to success. It bolsters self-belief and probably boosts release of endorphins (other helpful hormones are probably available). This kind of belief forces the body to comply with the heart’s desire and head’s ambition to win.

We’re comfortably familiar with the notion that pushing the body to perform in a certain way is part of the method of achieving goals. Harnessing will-power to function in unison with other means – training, eating the right food stuffs, drinking water, sleeping soundly, being kind, holding focus – powerfully wills the body to win. This is neither controversial nor buttock-clenchingly awkward for onlookers: indeed, it is expected.

Why then is belief in the body’s ability to fight illness considered heresy or the notion of a lunatic when exactly the same principles apply? Interviewed on Today, neuropsychopharmacologist, Professor David Nutt said in the context of treating depression …

“If you don’t believe in a treatment, as patient or doctor, it’s unlikely to work and that’s true of all medicine.”

Let’s consider complementary medicine.

Complementary medicine supports (complements) the body’s own efforts to heal itself.

When we’re permitted once more to shake hands, neurons send messages down nerves to lift the arm and extend the hand of friendship. When I want to recover from an illness, I command the immune system and spleen to go out to fight on my behalf: no?

What’s that you say? I do no such thing: that it happens is entirely beyond my control?

Well, under whose control is it? Does my body only do what it’s told by external technicians because they don’t believe I have any control over my body? How then do I shake a hand with no control over my body?

Today is Professor Nutt’s birthday. Three cheers for a scientist who speaks truth fearlessly.

* Owing to popular demand, The Materials is re-starting Voyage of Discovery: philosophical pacing through Nature to restore equilibrium, most usually taken up by C-Suite executives. Contact us to book one-to-one sessions reglue-ing pieces of mind.

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