I have been recovering from epilepsy for a long time and have become interested in reading a great deal about belief in relation to health and wellbeing. Other bloggers have touched on it recently, for example an excellent post from the http://workitwell.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/what-are-your-core-beliefs/
was titled ‘what are your core beliefs’.
Belief is a big word with few letters. Thinking about it might bring up ideas about your-self, others, religion, believing in something not believing in something, maybe even right and wrong.
So at what stage in your life did you start asking questions about the tooth fairy and Santa Clause?
Why do we believe what we believe and at what point do we begin to ask questions about these beliefs?
In the context of religion for example, asking questions about faith could be a welcome part of the discussion within a place of worship. Spiritual leaders may encourage debate about beliefs and use them as an opportunity to Shepard their flock to safer pastures.
However examples of how much resistance has been encountered in relation to changing beliefs can be found throughout history.
One such example of this would be the geocentric model (1) of the earth as the centre of the universe, and the resistance faced by Galileo Galilei (2) when he tried to present his case that things might be different.
Without reconsidering and changing beliefs such as the Earth as the centre of the universe, humans may never have made it to the moon. We could still be trying to leave the ground instead of taking into account new physics to take us upwards on an evolutionary path towards new technologies.
Can you imagine what would have happened if Galileo had suggested that you could communicate with people the other side of the world on an electric light box?
Bearing this in mind, how difficult is it for us to challenge or own beliefs and those held by people who are charged with our health care?
This type of difficulty is well illustrated by the distressing experience of Well Call me crazy here:
Having had experience of how difficult it can be to hold the ‘reflective mirror’ up to myself at what point do you question the beliefs of your doctors?
It is a sad fact that the men in white coats are often given great power by us. We look to them to answer our health problems but sadly don’t question their fallibility, and even if we do we can easily be put off by the sheer dazzling power of the white coat complex.
‘With great power comes great responsibility’ (star wars), which is sadly often abused. Pharmacy is big business and there are many millions of billions of motivations why modern medical culture doesn’t encourage us to ask questions about what is in our medication, how does it work, and what is it doing to the body?(3)
Great strides have been made by modern medicine in the mechanistic understanding of the body and yet the deities charged with our health care are only human. Why do we not ALWAYS ask what are you putting into my body?
A lot of people like my-self may have had the experience of being told that they would be on medication for life and that they need to be cured.
I prescribed to this belief for many years, despite experiencing side effects that were detrimental to my health and emotional wellbeing. This belief was driven simply by the fact that I thought my doctors new best. As a result of taking medication without question I didn’t get any better and ended up with significantly more health problems as a result.
I can’t remember exactly when I began to question the men in white coats, but I can remember that it was after I began to seek help from a white coat who went against the grain and decided to reduce my medication. The problem was it was turning me into a zombie – and zombies defiantly don’t think for themselves or ask questions.
My white coat was actually not convinced that I was epileptic at the time, so although I have to give him some credit for removing the medication it wasn’t because he had acknowledged that I am epileptic; although this did change once he had removed enough medication to find my EEG.
Whilst alternative therapies continue to be held up as many things (including the last resort for patients such as myself) there are a number of common denominators that I feel are important to mention.
The power of belief.
I have been following the work of Lissa Rankin MD.(4) You may have seen her TedX talk which I have posted at the bottom of the page. The placebo and nocebo effects are covered and Lissa speaks about the work of the institute of noetic Sciences (5) spontaneous remission project.(6)
Lissa’s blog has recently run a 4 part series http://lissarankin.com/is-it-your-fault-if-you-cant-heal-yourself-part-1 which asks is it your fault if you can’t heal yourself? This question in particular is relevant to recovery from ill health and was sparked as a result of the suggestion that we perhaps may be able to heal ourselves without medication and/or despite it.
Lissa’s work is an encouraging step towards introducing the notion that the body and mind may be intrinsically woven together in a more complex way than is currently outlined by modern Big Pharma medicine.
Would now be an appropriate time for Western medicine to start asking questions about how the mind is woven into the fabric of the body? Or is it too much of an expensive and painful prescription to swallow for Big pharma?
For me I it is not too late. I have had the lights turned on. The fog has lifted, and now I can ask questions.
For years I have been labouring under the impression I can’t learn, but last year I went to college and got 88%, 84% and 69% in exams in the same month as having seizures all month. I have spent this week twitching and seizing but I can still think.
The question had to be how?
All the time I couldn’t think I believed it was because I have epilepsy.
Now I have come to the conclusion that this isn’t so. I couldn’t think because I was on vast quantities of mind bending prescription medications.
I have had to address my core beliefs.
It has been very challenging and I still haven’t had time to integrate this new view of myself into my mind and body.
Socially epilepsy can be a very stigmatising health problem to experience. My experience has made me question how much society, attitudes, and beliefs play a part in recovery.
Thankfully I feel like I have been given a second chance. Realising that I can think and study has meant that I can go back to college to study with the support of my family.
Maybe one day we will all believe that the body, mind and environment are linked and that they are all as necessary for health as each other; just like we can now see we are only a small planet in a solar system in a universe that doesn’t revolve around us – or does it?
This post below illustrates how a different world view can influence recovery, and how diet is important to blood chemistry.
Why do we consistently reach for pills when diet can be so powerful?
It is sad to think that so many people may never know who they are without medication. I am glad that I found out.
Lissa Rankin MD TEDX