How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body

How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body

by David R. Hamilton PHD
How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body

How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body

by David R. Hamilton PHD


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An authoritative and accessible book by a qualified scientist, showing incredible proof of the mind-body connection.

There is no longer any doubt that the way we think affects our bodies: countless scientific studies have shown this to be true. For former pharmaceutical scientist Dr David Hamilton, the testing of new drugs highlighted how profoundly the mind and body are connected. Time and time again, the control group of patients in drug trials improved at similar rates to those who actually received the medicines. Astounded, Dr Hamilton decided to change the direction of his work to explore the relationship between the mind and the body.

This bestselling acclaimed book was first published 10 years ago. In it, Dr Hamilton explores the effect of visualization, belief and positive thinking on the body, and shows how using our imagination and mental processes can stimulate our own defences and healing systems to combat disease, pain and illness.

In this new edition, Dr Hamilton has added four new chapters to discuss the latest cutting-edge information and extraordinary new techniques. These include using imagery to stimulate the immune system - a method that can benefit cancer patients undergoing conventional treatment - effectively using the mind to speed up rehabilitation from stroke, and powerful visualization strategies to help facilitate recovery from injury and illness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781788171496
Publisher: Hay House Inc.
Publication date: 10/09/2018
Edition description: Anniversar
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 352,010
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

David Hamilton is a former scientist from within the pharmaceutical industry. Now a bestselling author, he travels throughout the world, offering talks and workshops to help people understand the power of the mind on the body.

Read an Excerpt


There’s no question that the mind impacts the body. A feeling of embarrassment flushes the cheeks, a thought of biting on a lemon causes salivation. There are even physically obvious changes in a male’s anatomy when he mentally indulges in a sexual fantasy.

All these things occur because thoughts, feelings, ideas, imagination, beliefs or expectations in a person’s mind produce a series of chemical and biological changes that result in a physical effect.

Paying more for a simple painkiller can produce a greater painkilling effect than a less expensive version, even though they might be the exact same drug, simply packaged and priced differently. Sometimes, even, an expensively packaged placebo is as good as a cheaper, mass-market version of an actual drug.

In the USA, a placebo injection for pain is more effective than a placebo tablet, yet in Europe, a placebo tablet is more effective than an injection, even though they’re both placebos. Some studies on anti-ulcer medication found that in Western Europe, the placebo was almost as good as the actual drug is in South America.

The same placebo can produce opposite effects, depending on what a person believes it’s for. Believing an inhaler can relax airways can relax airways, yet believing it contains allergens can constrict them, even if it’s a placebo in both cases. Believing a tablet to be a stimulant can cause muscle tension and an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, yet believing it to be a relaxant can relax the muscles and reduce heart rate and blood pressure. Some people even get drunk on alcohol placebos. And some of the power of Viagra may be down to the fact that its name sounds like Niagara, which is a powerful ‘force of nature’.

There are many ways that the mind impacts the body. Feeling stressed produces stress hormones, increases blood pressure and constricts arteries. Yet the feelings associated with love, kindness or compassion produce a hormone that reduces blood pressure and dilates arteries – an entirely opposite effect.

Placing our attention on the breath, as in meditation, can create physical changes in the structure of the brain, almost as if we’ve taken our brain to the gym. Some studies even find that meditation impacts around 2,000 of our genes.

Visualizing something also creates physical changes in the brain, in accordance with what a person is visualizing. In some ways, the brain can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what a person imagines. Studies on sports performers, and even on patients recovering from a stroke, show that imagining moving their muscles causes significant improvements in their muscles.

Studies on the immune system even show that visualizing the action of the immune system can enhance immune function. In some research, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy who visualized the workings of their immune system fared much better than patients who did not do the visualizations. People have applied visualization strategies to all manner of different ailments, injuries and medical conditions, many of which you’ll read about in this book.

How This Book Works

The first part of the book shares the scientific evidence for the mind–body connection, from the impact of attitude on ageing, the immune system and the heart, to how the placebo effect works and several examples of it, to the effects of meditation and how visualization works to bring about changes in the brain and body; it also shares research on the use of visualization to assist sportspeople, stroke sufferers and those undergoing cancer treatment.

The second half of the book teaches you how to visualize, explains the key strategies and shares numerous real examples of visualization strategies successfully used by people around the world. It also includes an A–Z of medical conditions, with one or more suggested visualization for each.

Throughout the book, I’ve used the terms ‘visualization’ and ‘imagery’ mostly interchangeably, to refer to the same phenomenon of having a clear internal mental representation of something. In the book, I share more of what this means and how to create such a representation.

This is the 10-year anniversary edition of How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body. When I first wrote the book, in 2008, I had no idea of the number of people who would read it or use it as a guide to assist them through their recovery from injury, illness or disease, nor that one day I’d write an introduction to a 10-year anniversary edition. I’m very pleased to have been able to help people, even in this small way.

Research has progressed much in these past 10 years. This new edition contains four new chapters that summarize a great deal of the research on the use of visualization in a number of scenarios: to enhance sports performance, whether for the absolute beginner or the elite performer; in the rehabilitation of people who have had a stroke; and in how visualization can impact the immune system and how this has benefited people with cancer who were undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy and/or surgery.

The new material also summarizes published scientific studies on the use of visualization for asthma, total knee replacement, arthritis, interstitial cystitis, wound healing, and other conditions, as well as explaining how visualization actually works to bring about changes in the body. The scientific references for all studies cited can be found in the References section at the back of the book, should you wish to look into specific areas yourself in more depth.

This new edition also includes new stories from people who used visualization to help them recover from cancer, ME/CFS, cardiovascular disease, post-polio syndrome, lupus, hay fever, underactive thyroid, psoriasis, to reduce inflammation, to remove warts and verrucas, even to beat travel sickness.

This book is by no means the answer to all questions regarding the impact of the mind on the body and its use in aiding healing, nor is it the last word on the subject. It’s more of a simplified practical guide that shares the science on how the mind–body connection works in order that this understanding can help readers have more belief in their own use of their mind, together with some simple instructions on how to use the mind to aid a healing process.

It’s my wish that this book will offer hope and practical guidance to people who need it. I also hope that by bringing the broad subject of mind–body research together in the clear and concise way that I’ve presented it, this book will also lead to more active scientific research.

Let me also say that although the title of the book says ‘… heal the body’, I am of course not suggesting that the mind is the sole agency in a person’s recovery from injury, illness and disease; instead, I’m saying that it plays a contributory role that sometimes might be significant.

We use our mind all the time to make us feel good or even to make us feel stressed, without realizing that the direction we point it in can have an effect. Thinking of people and things that annoy us, for example, might slow healing by suppressing the immune system, while thinking in such a way that makes us feel good or relaxed might enhance the immune system.

In this book, I’ve suggested that we use our mind in addition to whatever medical advice or interventions we might be undergoing, not instead of them – just as we don’t exercise instead of eating, or meditate instead of sleeping. One thing complements the other. It doesn’t substitute it. Thus, we should use our mind as support for natural healing processes, as well as support for drug and other medical interventions.

Perhaps a more appropriate title for the book would be ‘… help the body’. However, I don’t wish to downplay the powerful role that the mind can play in healing, because sometimes, how a person uses their mind might be extremely important.

I hope you enjoy reading the book and that whether you’re a patient, an interested reader, a therapist, a health professional or an academic, you find something of value within its pages.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements xi

Introduction xiii

Part I The Mind-Body Connection

Chapter 1 The Power of Positive Thinking 3

Chapter 2 The Power of Believing 19

Chapter 3 Drugs Work Better If We Believe in Them 33

Chapter 4 The Power of Plasticity 49

Chapter 5 The Mind Can Heal the Body 59

Chapter 6 The Power of Imagination and Observation 73

Chapter 7 Visualization for Rehabilitation and Sports 85

Chapter 8 Visualization to Enhance the Immune System 97

Chapter 9 Visualization for Cancer and Other Conditions 103

Chapter 10 How Visualization Works 119

Chapter 11 To Stress, or Not to Stress 125

Chapter 12 How to Visualize 135

Chapter 13 The Power of Affirmations 147

Part II Visualization in Action

Chapter 14 True Stories of Successful Visualizations 153

In Closing: The Power of Love 195

A-Z of Visualizations 207

References 265

Index 289

About the Author 301

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