Today the Dr. Oz show featured an anesthesiologist that claims he heals his patients via modern medicine and faith. The audience had a whole section that was filled with patients that claim they have been healed by this doctor. They also said that they believe faith played a major role in their healing. Dr. Oz polled his audience and 86% said that they believe faith can heal. I too side with the audience. Faith heals. But just after I say or think those words, I hear a little voice in my head say, "but how does it work?" Well apparently Dr. Oz has the same little voice as mine in his head. There are several "scientific theories" as to how faith healing works. The medical community acknowledges something called spontaneous healing. This is when the body heals itself and there is no scientific explanation for exactly how this happened. Would it have happened whether the patient visited a faith healer or not? No one can say; but skeptics of faith healers say yes. Another theory is the placebo effect where a patient believes that they are doing something that will heal them and then it does. A valid point was brought up by another physician, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical school, who also became part of the panel on this mornings Dr. Oz show. He stated that we use the term placebo effect for anything that we can't explain via modern medicine. Placebo effect can be used to explain spontaneous remission, a misdiagnosis, faith, a certain mental state, or mind over matter.
Dr. Oz brought up a poignant study of one of the most comprehensive trials ever done on the power of prayer and its effects on healing. Cardiac patients were prayed for by people from afar and then the patients progress was measured. The results were shocking to many because they indicated no measurable results in the patients condition. He then asked the faith healing doctor why it is that so many people with faith pray that their illness gets better and many of them remain sick. Does he have some special connection to "the source" that others lack? His answer was, "no." He said the only difference he can see is the person's state of mind at the moment and their connection to the love that they have for everyone around them. The psychiatrist agreed that modern science is just beginning to tap into the link between love and health.
For the skeptics, a patient that had been diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis 15 years ago, a condition where the life expectancy is no greater than 5 years, joined the panel on the stage. She also happened to be a physician herself. Dr. Oz had reviewed her file several times and called it "miraculous." Side note - there are now 3 western medical doctors in the front of the room all using words like faith, miracles, and prayer. She saw the healing anesthesiologist and shortly after her condition was completely gone. Dr. Oz confronted her with what other doctors might say to try and explain what had occurred, which was that she was misdiagnosed. She asked him how they would argue with a biopsy and the images that she had of her lungs. He could only conclude that there would be nothing anyone could say.
I should also note that the anesthesiologist does not charge for his "healing" services. He holds healing days where people come from all over the U.S. to be seen by him and not a cent is paid. He makes his money from his regular day job of medical doctor.
For me, the segment was fascinating. Anytime that science and faith get together, they have my attention. I am after all the daughter of a theologian and an aspiring psychologist. What interested me most is the couple of lines spoken about love and healing. The anesthesiologist oozed love. He was an older soft spoken man. He chose his words with careful consideration like the way people who are referred to as wise do. I would imagine that people feel comfortable and at ease when he tells them he will be their anesthesiologist. I wonder if the reason why the study with the cardiac patients yielded no measurable healing is because love was not added to the equation. I have not read this study but I would imagine that since it was people from afar that were praying for these patients, they were not people who knew or loved the patients. I'm not trying to take away from the fact that I'm sure they were good people, trying to do a good thing; but how much love was poured into the prayer?
There was a time in my life when I would cry or get teary eyed in church. Although I must admit that I don't go to church as much as a good Catholic girl should, this still happens to me when I'm there if I allow myself to be fully present. My step-mother had noticed this, and a long time later she commented to me that I must have not been very happy during that time in my life. I was shocked and explained to her that it was just the opposite. My teary-eyedness would come from a place of gratitude and communion with others. It would come from a connection with love; love for my life, my family, and the kindness and goodness of others.
One thing I can say for sure about this time in my life is that I am healthier than I might otherwise be because of love. I know that there are so many people praying for me and what is felt more than anything by me and my family is the outpouring of love from our community. It swells my heart with more gratitude than I can justify with words. I believe that prayer and love can combine to produce miracles. Thank you to all the miracle workers in my life! I want you to know that I truly feel the love. I say thank you so often in person and in emails but those words fall short. It is my hope that through my life, through the person I am, strive to be, and become, I will make you proud. Thanks again miracle workers. You are lovingly in my prayers too!