Today, our guest, the Rev. John Price, looks at the
mind-body connection. The University of Houston
presents this series about the machines, and minds,
that make our civilization run, and the people
whose ingenuity created them
In the field of Medical
Science, many top-level scientists are studying
extensively the link between the mind and the body.
Psychosomatic illnesses are the negative side of
this relationship, but a few pioneers put their
reputations on the line in the last 25 years as
they took these insights in the positive direction.
The National Institute for Healthcare Research has
published a three-volume work, The Faith
Factor: An Annotated Bibliography of Clinical
Research on Spiritual Subjects. This work
gives abstracts of hundreds of scientific studies,
which show many aspects of the vital link between
faith practices and health. The studies
overwhelmingly show a serious link between what
people believe and act upon, on the one hand, and
their general health on the other.
Dr. Herbert Benson, Associate Professor of Medicine
at the Harvard Medical School, calls this mind-body
relationship the "placebo effect," and broadens our
understanding of the word "placebo" to include the
various impacts upon our health of belief one way
or the other about the existence and nature of God.
Dr. Bernie Siegel, now Professor Emeritus of
Oncology Surgery at the Johns Hopkins Medical
School, published Love, Medicine, and
Miracles, a landmark book in 1986, in which he
discusses the direct link between belief and health
in the field of oncology.
A classic study reported in the Southern
Medical Journal of December, 1988, was
replicated and reported in the Journal of the
American Medical Association, in October,
1999. In these two double-blind studies done with
patients in large cardiac hospitals in California
(1988) and Missouri (1999), significant results
were an-nounced. They showed dramatic decreases in
cardiopulmonary arrests; pneumonia; need of
diuretics, antibiotics, or intubation; and
significantly lowered rates of mortality among the
192 patients in the California study and among the
466 patients in Missouri who were prayed for daily
by name by Church prayer groups across the country,
as compared with the patients in the control groups
not prayed for.
Dr. Larry Dossey, a previously agnostic physician,
came to re-alize the solid contribution of these
studies and has published a few books on the
subject such as Healing Words, in which he states
that the link between health and prayer is so
thoroughly demonstrated in so many such studies
that it should be an issue for malpractice claims
if a physician does not pray for his patients.
Many will still challenge these studies and
conclusions, even though the studies were conducted
in accordance with strict scientific guidelines.
But for those who practice their religious beliefs,
health is statistically shown in these studies to
benefit greatly and life extended many years. I
doubt that anyone who insists on double-blind
studies on a subject before believing it would ever
use this method to select a spouse.
I'm John Price, an Episcopal priest, and while a
chaplain at St. Luke's Hospital in Houston, day by
day, I saw the link between mind and body -- faith
The Rev. John W. Price, is an Episcopal priest and
recently retired from the Chaplaincy at St. Luke's
Episcopal Hospital. He is also Assisting priest at
Palmer Memorial Church, Houston, Texas. http://www.frjohnwprice.org
The Faith Factor: An Annotated Bibliography of
Clinical Research on Spiritual Subjects,
National Institute for Healthcare Research, funded
by the Templeton Foundation, three-volume work,
Love, Medicine, and Miracles, by Dr.
Bernie Siegel, Professor Emeritus of Oncology
Surgery, Johns Hopkins Medical School, New York:
Harper & Row, 1986.
Southern Medical Journal, December 1988;
81:826-829; and JAMA, Oct 25, 1999;
159-#19). These studies showed dramatic decreases
in cardiopulmonary arrests, pneumonia, need of
diuretics, antibiotics, intubation, and rates of
mortality among the 192 (California, 1980's) and
466 (Missouri, 1990's) patients who were prayed
daily for by name as compared with the 201(CA) and
524(MO) in the control groups not prayed for.
Seventeenth-century view of faith healing (from
Iconum Biblicarum, 1627) This scene, from
Chapter 2 of Mark's Gospel, is actually more complex
than it seems. For, after the paralyzed man was
delivered with great effort, through a hole in the
roof, Jesus did not heal him, but forgave his sins
instead -- healed the mind instead of the body, you
might infer. Or, perhaps, healed them both in so
doing. The Bible does not say.
The Engines of Our Ingenuity is
Copyright © 1988-2004 by John H.