Regardless of the degree to which you believe in the legitimacy of hexes, voodoo dolls, mojoes, cursing a name, or praying hard for an event to occur (or not occur), Dr. Larry Dossey's new book will surprise you. Never before has someone researched so diligently the positive and negative effects of prayer, and with his six books, Dossey has almost single-handedly legitimized the scientific study of prayer in its relation to medicine and healing. Now, with Be Careful What You Pray For...You Just Might Get It, Dossey looks at the unsettling ability of prayer to cause harm and inflict pain upon others.
No one would bother to pray for well-being, protection, and success if he or she did not earnestly believe that some good would come of his or her efforts. Answered prayers are not considered coincidences by those who have faith in their calming and effective powers. Spirituality is a deep, internal, and powerful force; if prayer can be used for good intentions, can it also be focused on evil? Dossey, whose ideas on the subject first appeared in the March/April 1997 issue of Psychology Today magazine, explains that the negative use of prayer is not a new concept. As long as people have been praying to an almighty being, they have prayed both to help themselves and, intentionally or unconsciously, to harm others.
The book gives a wide range of examples of negative prayer, from voodoo to sorcery to praying on the sidelines that the final free throw is off the mark so your team will win the game. Dossey reveals the powerful effects ofyourhalf-joking wish that your boss will have to call in sick. It is all very real, he argues; the thoughts and prayers that you have about others, and that they have about you, have deeper significance than one might believe or intend.
Through fascinating case studies and solid scientific analysis, Dossey illustrates the different kinds of negative prayer and, just as important, how to insulate yourself from the harmful thoughts, prayers, and wishes that abound in everyday life. One of the most fascinating case histories details an experiment conducted at Dartmouth Medical School that found a direct correlation between the rate of survival in major surgery and the degree of spirituality in the patient's life. An experiment in protective images undertaken by doctors at the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio revealed that people were able to influence the bodily systems of others from a distance, purely through mental means; yet when the "attacked" person visualized a massive, impenetrable steel monolith, effects of the evil thoughts were minimized. This is not a fluke: Studies show that humans can harm bacteria at a distance, armed only with negative intention. Every time you pray and hope that someone you love recovers from an illness, you are praying for the death of the cells causing the affliction.
Regardless of your personal reliance on faith, religious background, or belief in Dossey's assertions, Be Careful What You Pray For will fascinate you.