Mind over Matter

It has long been suspected that the human brain can influence the body in ways that we do not understand. Research has shown that genuine physical responses within the body can be controlled by the brain. There is evidence that automatic reflexes which were previously regarded as being quite outside voluntary control can be stopped or started by conscious effort.

For example, it seems that the digestive process can be specifically controlled. If you eat a very fatty meal your body will normally produce special enzymes which will break down the fat and turn it into products which can be transported in the blood. It is now known, however, that the production of these special fat-dissolving enzymes can be consciously controlled. Concentrate hard enough and you can force your body to produce fat-dissolving enzymes even if you haven’t eaten any fat.

Even more startling, perhaps, the body’s immune system, previously regarded as an entirely automatic phenomenon, can also be voluntarily controlled under some circumstances. It has been shown, for example, that the body’s response to the type of intradermal tuberculin injection used in the Mantoux test for T.B. immunity can be influenced by hypnosis. Normally such an injection will produce a response from the body’s own defences. A swelling and a small red mark will develop at the site of the injection if the body has been previously exposed to tuberculosis and has been able to prepare defences. Such a response can, however, be overruled if a subject under hypnosis, who would have reacted to the injection, is told that he will not respond. Surprisingly, it seems that even a cell-mediated immunity reaction may be controlled by the mind.

We still don’t understand the extent of the mind’s power over the body and nor do we understand why there should be such power. All we can say for certain is that the mind does have power over the body in very many different ways.

If a man is told that he is at the North Pole and he believes what he is told, he’ll show physical signs which suggest that his body is reacting as though he were at the North Pole. He’ll go pale and shiver. If a hay fever sufferer is shown a photograph of the sort of plant to which he is allergic, he’ll sneeze. When the film Lawrence of Arabia was shown, cinema managers around the world reported that the sales of ice cream rocketed. The endless desert scenes had made the patrons feel uncomfortably hot.

Hypnotists use the power of the mind over the body in order to exert their influence. The operator must only convince the patient that something is true and the patient will act accordingly. If he convinces the patient that his arms are as heavy as lead, then the patient will be unable to lift his arms. If he convinces the patient that a piece of ice is a red hot poker and he then touched the patient’s skin with the ice, a blister will develop. The body will react to the suggestion, and not to the reality, and signs of a genuine burn will appear.

Taken from Bodypower, a world wide bestseller, is available as a paperback and an eBook. It was chosen by readers of the Good Book Guide as one of their top 100 books.