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"Love, Medicine and Miracles"

Posted by MariaS. on 3/08/04 at 15:14 (146463)

'Love, Medicine and Miracles' is a book written by Bernie Spiegal, a surgeon with very interesting ideas about the mind/body connection.

I had PF for almost 2 months. A drop in the bucket to most of you folks. I didn't like the course of treatment recommended by my doctor, so adopted those techniques that seemed best to me and proceeded.

After reading 'Love, Medicine and Miracles' I now believe that it didn't matter what course of treatment I chose..... as LONG AS I BELIEVED IT WOULD WORK. The placebo effect is real

I chose what I believed in my heart would work, did it against my doctor's advice and against the advice of people here, and was symptom free within weeks. I have occasional relapses, but they never last longer than a few minutes.

The mind has incredible powers over the body. I think that this book will help anyone with a chronic illness, even though it is mostly about cancer patients.

Re: "Love, Medicine and Miracles"

Carlos N. on 3/08/04 at 18:11 (146482)

Maria, what sort of treatment did you follow to cure your PF?

I think I'll look into the book because I am a big believer in mind/body connection. Unfortunately, I've placed belief in a lot of shoes, treatments, and orthotics without success. I have done visualizations and affirmations for over a decade now and I can't get my feet to stop hurting.

Re: "Love, Medicine and Miracles"

Max K on 3/09/04 at 00:52 (146503)

Hi Maria,

you say that 'The placebo effect is real.' So if you accidentaly cut your finger to the bone and the E.R. doctor stitches you up, are you saying that this treatment only works because you believe in it? So the doctor could have performed a voodoo cermony instead of surgery and the result would have been the same or even better, as long as you believe in the voodoo treatment?

If you believe that, then you DON'T believe in medical treatments. You must think that medical treatments are a sort of fraud.

I have not read that book, but I read one by Louise Hay called 'You Can Heal Your Life', which contains an alphabetical list, 40 pages long, of physical symptoms and their MENTAL causes and cures. It is an interesting read, but I don't believe what it says, because I already believe in medicine, and the two beliefs are mutually exclusive, it seems to me, because they can't both be true. (or can they?) Max

Re: "Love, Medicine and Miracles"

Renee S on 3/09/04 at 08:15 (146510)

If it worked for Maria good for her. At least some of us are getting relief. I think you took her words out of context while giving your example of the cut finger. I believe that in certain circumstances just believing you will get better helps you heal and I think that's what Maria meant. She is doing what everyone else is doing on this website, trying to give people different possibilities to get better. Some people may like this kind of treatment some won't. I don't like the stretching exercises but I don't go around telling people it doesn't work and that they shouldn't try it. We are all here for the same reason to get better. Thank you Maria for giving an extra option for us, for our treatment.

Re: "Love, Medicine and Miracles"

john h on 3/09/04 at 09:40 (146518)

Max I also firmly believe in modern medicine but also recognize there is a very real placebo effect that cannot be medically explained. I think you can be rooted in modern medicine but also recognize there are some things which modern medicine cannot explain. Can anyone really explain hypnosis to the point where some people have had surgery while under hypnosis? Perception can sometimes become reality for some people. The mind body connection is not understood but medicine knows that a positive attitude can produce a better immune effect which can be measured. We have a long long way to go to understand the human brain/mind/soul.

Re: "Love, Medicine and Miracles"

MariaS. on 3/09/04 at 09:51 (146522)

What sort of treatment did I follow?

I continued to wear the same style of shoe I have for the past eight years: a soft leather slip on moccasin style shoe with no arch support.

I didn't like the idea of taping, I didn't want to impede the range of motion on my feet... so I didn't. I just took short, slow steps and sat a lot.

I stretched a little and did the yoga foot stretches... but not too many, as pain increased when I did.

I refused to take pain killers of any sort, figuring I needed to listen to my feet.

Mental stuff:

1. I regularly envisioned healing energy flowing through my feet.

2. I also consciously tried to let go of the identity of pain. Hard to explain... but I found myself almost hugging the pain to myself in an attempt to prove to my family that it really did hurt. That was counter productive. I decided that it didn't matter what they thought, and if I was WRONG about myself, and got better ahead of schedule, then that was a GOOD thing. I didn't have to be right with my dire predictions of probably at least a year of being like this.

3. When I was a Judo student, we learned a concept called the 'unliftable body', in which one envisions themselves as very heavy---making it impossible for another student to lift you. Here's an explanation of the technique: http://www.bodymindandmodem.com/CoolKi/Unlift.html

I eventually decided to reverse the process and envision my weight being pulled upward to a point about 6 inches above my head. To my immense surprise, it worked. It immediately feel like I was lighter on my feet and the foot pain stopped. I can't explain it. It shouldn't work, but it does. It's hard to keep your concentration on that point above your head when walking around, but when I did, I felt no pain. Now I only do that when I have a relapse.


And that's all I did. No splints, no tapes, no drugs, no heel pads, no arch support shoes. Two months after I came down with PF, I went to a convention in Toronto and walked almost constantly for 2 days. I was worried that I would hurt myself... but my feet didn't hurt any more than my companion's did.

I think, now, after reading that book, that since I only did the treatments that I believed in, I had a swift recovery. The doctor that wrote the book said that when a patient doesn't believe that a technique will cure him, then it usually wont... or else they will have so many side effects that the treatment has to be stopped.

Re: "Love, Medicine and Miracles"

MariaS. on 3/09/04 at 10:04 (146524)

What I'm saying is that the mind REALLY IS in control of the body and that the subconscious mind that controls all the autonomic functions of the body can do all sorts of chemical and nervous system manipulations to accomplish what it perceives that it needs to do.

However, the conscious mind often has many hangups and the unconscious mind gets a skewed picture of what needs to be done. Hysterical paralysis is an extreme example: When a body part goes numb (or is even paralyzed) for NO apparent physical cause.

Placebo effect doesn't really apply to open wounds. But there are several accounts in the book I mentioned, of cancer patients whose tumors disappeared on recieving injections of a placebo.

There is also an account of a study in Great Britain about where some patients were told they would go on chemotherapy and were given injections of saline solution. 30% of them LOST their hair. Pretty weird, eh? The body often follows the expectations of the mind.

All I'm saying is that if one can modify the expectations of the mind, then perhaps the body will follow! :)

Re: "Love, Medicine and Miracles"

Max K on 3/09/04 at 13:33 (146543)

Maria, sorry for my outburst of skepticism. I'm just in a 'skeptical cycle' right now. I used to read some books about the mind-body connection, by Deepak Chopra and Louise Hay and others, and I did believe in that or wanted to believe in that. I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Now my position is reversed: I do not believe in that, unless I see otherwise. I appreciate reading what you said about your story, but my skeptical mind immediately says to me: 'well, she might have been one of those cases that was ready for spontaneous resolution anyway, her body healed itself, she just THINKS that it was mental work which caused the healing.'

If it were possible to CAUSE a healing via mental work, then this would be the proper subject of study for medicinal science. Then hospitals should phase out medical treatments based on scientific cause-and-effect and phase in mental treatments based on meditation or affirmations or prayer.

If that stuff really works, then yes, that is of course the best mode of treatment. And there are people, like Louise Hay, who say they did cure their own cancer using such mental techniques. But forgive me, I'm still skeptical. 3 years ago, I tried to lose weight using affirmations, but it had no effect. Then last July I tried a different approach: a certain combination of diet and exercise, and by now I have lost 40 pounds. This experience of weight-loss success naturally strengthens my belief in scientific cause-and-effect, and WEAKENS my belief in the efficacy of mental techniques.

However I am still fascinated by the possibility of mental healings. Maybe medical science is simply crude and undeveloped in that area. It would help if these stories of people curing their own diseases were not so few and far between. For example, I'd like to hear of someone who cured their own lifelong diabetes, or of someone who, after years of kidney dialysis, restored their kidneys to full function using mental techniques alone. THAT would impress me. If such a story was credible, it would blow me away. Max

Re: "Love, Medicine and Miracles"

MariaS. on 3/09/04 at 14:52 (146550)

In that book, Bernie Spiegel says that there is a documented case in a person with multiple personality disorder where one personality has diabetes and the other personalities do not.

That seems REALLY incredible to me. I'm going to look for more such references on the web.

One of the reasons Bernie Spiegel says that there are not more documented cases of self healing is because the patients don't come back!

If you are interested in this sort of thing, the book is very cheap in used format on Amazon.com. It is chock full of case after case. I can't verify the contents of the book, of course, but I did do a web search on the name of the author and found that he is a popular motivational speaker now for chronic illness groups. That lends some legitimacy to his statements, at least in my eyes.

I'm going to apply some of the lessons I learned in the book to weight loss, myself. The question I have to ask myself is 'Why do I need this fat?' I suspect that it is because I'm rather shy and can't stand to have men other than my husband look at me admiringly. I use the fat as a shield. Every other time in my life that I have started a diet... it almost always ends when some guy gives me a compliment or a LOOK.

Perhaps now, I can put that aside...... It's just not healthy to be teetering on the edge of obesity- and if that really was my mental hangup- perhaps I can stick to my current and Oh_So_Sensible diet. :)

Anyway, Bernie says in his book that he can't really cure someone's tumor unless the mental problems are dealt with first. He can only give them time (ie: surgery) in order for them to learn how to cure themselves. I suspect that applies to a lot of illness, especially things that we, in effect, do to ourselves.

And I did the PF to myself, no doubt about it. I was over enthusiastic in my stretching regimen and damaged my feet. I also suspect that I was scared to death to go to that convention in Toronto and was seeking any excuse not to go. As it was, I had a brief panic attack in the hotel room when we got there, my first ever.

My subconscious was trying every trick it knew to either keep me from going, or make me go home early. Fortunately, my conscious mind won. We had a grand time. :) It was a Lord of the Rings convention celebrating the opening day of Return of the King! REALLY cool. :D But I'm a homebody at heart and it was a definite wrench to leave our farm and go spend almost a week in a Big City. I was SO glad to get home.

But, I digress. :) My point is, maybe my PF cured itself when it became obvious that I wasn't going to cancel the trip. I was going to go even if I had to get a wheelchair!

I don't know. The subconscious is a tricky thing.

Re: "Love, Medicine and Miracles"

Max K on 3/10/04 at 14:56 (146617)

Hi Maria, you said:

'If you are interested in this sort of thing, the book is very cheap in used format on Amazon.com. It is chock full of case after case.'

I ordered it where you said for 75¢ plus shipping. I want to look at those cases and see what I think. Max

Re: "Love, Medicine and Miracles"

Ed Davis, DPM on 3/10/04 at 23:32 (146658)


One thing to consider is exactly where Maria was in terms of stages of PF development. A number of cases self resolve with rest or mild treatment and it is hard to say if Maria's case falls into that category or if something mysterious actually did happen. My training and experience tend to make me go with the former.

Maria's presentation would be more compelling if she had a long term case or 'intractable' PF and then it resolved with such techniques.

Re: "Love, Medicine and Miracles"

MariaS. on 3/11/04 at 13:58 (146712)

Dear Ed,

I still thought I ought to bring it up. I got over it relatively quickly, with the occasional momentary relapse... and if my experience can help anyone else, then I hope it does.

I'll never know if I would have become a long term 'intractable' without the methods I used. That's an experience I'd just as soon skip! I just know that the treatments suggested to me by the podiatrist I saw were not something I was willing to put up with... and I got better on my own faster than what he predicted would happen *with* his help.

My thanks to this site, though. The stuff I read here drastically reduced my fear level which seems to have a lot to do with pain perception.

Do you believe that there is a psychological element to any illness? That's mainly what I'm trying to point out here.

You know what? That statement of yours, 'A number of cases self resolve with rest or mild treatment....' That in itself seems to be a fairly mysterious thing on it's own. If the damage is the same, and the relative pain being felt is the same, then wouldn't the treatment be about the same for everyone, mechanistically speaking? I think that there is something at work here that defies logic and science.