How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body by David Hamilton, Hay House, London, 2008, 320 ff
The power of mind over body
By Howard Jones
With this book David Hamilton returns to the theme of his first book, It's the Thought That Counts, but here the material is presented as a practical guide to how people can use the mind-body relation to heal themselves, a technique known as visualisation. It covers much the same ground as Louise Hay's You Can Heal Your Life. The work is the product of the experience that Hamilton has gained from public responses at his talks and workshops. Dr Hamilton qualified originally as an organic chemist and medical chemist and then went to work for a pharmaceutical company for four years. At the end of that time he left to become a freelance writer and lecturer. His focus on the mind's ability to heal the body derives from the effectiveness he observed of placebo treatments in drug trials during his pharmaceutical career.
The range of illnesses that can be treated to a large extent by visualisation is great and includes many potentially life-threatening conditions. I am glad to see that Hamilton adds cautiously that `improvements can be made' in debilitating conditions after claiming that `almost any illness can be healed using the mind'. This is a huge claim and tantamount to the Christian Science philosophy that we do not need the surgical techniques and drugs of modern medicine - a claim that I suspect few would agree with. On the other hand, complementary medicine and the principles of visualisation have a great deal to offer in reducing our dependence on allopathic medicine with its all-too-frequent and unpleasant side-effects. Still, there are claims that I believe overstate the case, like `We age at the rate we believe we're supposed to': mind-set certainly affects the aging process, positively or negatively, but it doesn't determine it.
Chapters on the power of positive thinking and belief, and the effectiveness of placebos lay the groundwork for a discussion of neuroplasticity - how the mind affects not only the brain but the whole body and can radically influence their biochemistry. The Buddhist philosophy of not dwelling on past failures and frustrations, or on future dreams that may never be fulfilled, both of which can be sources of significant stress, but rather focussing on living in the present moment is a key principle. Finding suitable affirmations that relate to your individual situation can be important here.
Part II, occupying half of the book, is devoted to true stories of the success of visualisations with long Appendices on the practicalities of the subject. There are several pages of References but no index.
Dr Howard A. Jones is the author of The Thoughtful Guide to God (2006) and The Tao of Holism (2008), both published by O Books of Winchester, UK.It's The Thought That Counts: Why Mind Over Matter Really WorksThe Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles