Modern Medicine has come a good distance in its shift from a strictly physiological view of patients to one that includes mental factors. Unquestionably, the mind-body connection has garnered the serious attention of many of today’s researchers and medical professionals.
One highly respected physician who has been carefully observing the effects of a fearful mental state on the patient’s well-being is Dr. Martin P. Solomon, who practices and teaches medicine here in Boston. In his recently published book, Don’t Worry, Be Healthy, he talks about encounters with patients who fear the worst, and the negative effect this has had on their attitude, their energy, their freedom, and their health. Over the span of his more than twenty-year practice, Dr. Solomon has seen an increase in the fears people have that in spite of their best efforts to stay healthy, they still might acquire some dreadful disease. He attributes this fear of disease to the newspapers, television health programs, medical newsletters, and talk shows that suggest that even if you feel perfectly fine, a danger to your health could be lurking just around the corner.
The extent to which fear, or any mental state, affects a person’s life was thoroughly explored over a century ago by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science. She learned that keeping a close watch on the kind of information we open ourselves up to is an important step in preventing fear and its effects on the body. “Disquisitions on disease have a mental effect similar to that produced on children by telling ghost-stories in the dark,” she writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She goes on to explain, “As frightened children look everywhere for the imaginary ghost, so sick humanity sees danger in every direction, and looks for relief in all ways except the right one.”
She recognized that the fear of disease and suffering, along with ignorance and the belief that we are separated from God, is a primary factor in the development of disease. In Science and Health, where Mrs. Eddy explains her proven method for healing disease, she includes this groundbreaking statement: “If you succeed in wholly removing the fear, your patient is healed.”
Here is where the author’s insight, based on her own years of experience in healing as well as her study of the healing works of Christ Jesus, is taking today’s knowledge of the mind-body relationship to another level. The human body manifests what the human mind is expressing, Mrs. Eddy found, not just in rare cases but in every case.
Disease is a subjective mental experience, she learned, and therefore the most effective way to treat it is mentally — and spiritually. Through prayer, the spiritual understanding of God’s pure goodness and perfection, and of each individual as truly made in God’s image, entirely spiritual and good, destroys fear, restores harmony, and thus heals both mind and body.
At the bottom of all fear is ignorance, to some degree, of this spiritual fact of existence. When this ignorance is corrected through the spiritual perception and understanding of God’s allness and His governing, harmony-producing law, what was believed to be a threat to our well-being is seen as powerless and unreal, and we’re no longer afraid. When the fear is eliminated, any resulting discord goes with it. This has been proved time after time in the lives of many thousands of spiritual seekers who, through their prayers, have sensed God’s goodness, power, and love, which took away their fears and consequently healed their ills.
Even so, as extraordinary as this spiritual means for healing is, it would vastly limit its scope to think of it only in curative terms—in other words, here’s something I can use if I get sick. Understanding what God is, all-present and all-powerful divine Love, and that God’s image, our true selfhood, is eternally embraced and cared for by that Love—and this is what Science and Health explains—is effective preventive measure. With God’s perfect love and care foremost in our thoughts, the notion that we’re liable to be ill because of some harmful influence loses its power to frighten and govern us. We perceive what’s truly governing our being and maintaining harmony, and in this way we root out an underling, often undetected fear—a false fear, to be sure — that at any time our health may be in jeopardy. The inspiring words of Paul remind us, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”3
Today there are encouraging signs that society is beginning to grasp the significance of the mind-body relation. In spite of the fact that we are bombarded with “disquisitions on disease” on so many fronts, in some quarters people are acknowledging the detrimental impact these have on health. That’s an important step forward. These individuals are discovering that it’s in their best interest to consider carefully what they think and watch and read.
As the next step forward is taken, and people focus more and more attention on yet another relation, the most important relation of all—their unbroken relation to God — they will realize the healthy effect and power of being spiritually-minded. It will be found that nothing else is as far-reaching and effective in eliminating the fear of disease, and disease itself.
Christian Science Journal, March 2000