All who participate in walking across coals, drinking poison, lifting cars, or expressing spontaneous remissions share one trait-an unshakable belief they will succeed in their mission.
We do not use the word belief lightly. In “Biology of Belief”, belief is not a trait that can be measured on a scale from 0 to 100 percent. For example, drinking strychnine is not a game for the “I think I believe“ crowd. Belief resembles pregnancy; you’re either pregnant or you’re not. The hardest part about the belief game is that you either believe something or you don’t-there is no middle ground.
Even though many physicists might say they believe lit coals are not really hot, they are not apt to shovel the briquettes out of their Weber grill and practice firewalking on them. While you may hold a belief in God, is it powerful enough to believe God will protect you if you drink poison? Put another way, how would you like your strychnine-stirred or shaken? We suggest before you answer that question you have zero percent doubt. Even if you have up to a whopping 99.9 percent belief in God, you might want to forego the strychnine and settle for iced tea.
If you consider the extraordinary examples cited above as exceptions, we agree. However, even if they are exceptions that cannot be explained by conventional science, people experience them all of the time. Even if we don’t have the science to explain what they did, theirs are experiences of conventional human beings. As a human being yourself, you could likely do the same things as well as, or even better, if only you had belief. Sound familiar?
And while these stories are exceptional, remember that the exception of today can easily become the accepted science of tomorrow.
One final compelling example of the mind’s power over biology can be gleaned from the mysterious dysfunction commonly referred to as multiple personality disorder, more officiously known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). A person with DID actually loses his or her own ego identity and takes on the unique personality and behavioral traits of a completely different person.
How could this be? Well, it’s like listening to a radio station in your car and, as you travel, the station becomes staticky and fades out as a different station on the same frequency grows stronger. This can be jarring if, for example, you are cruising with The Beach Boys and, a couple of choppy moments later, you find yourself in the midst of a fire-and-brimstone, Bible-thumpin’ revival. Or, for that matter, what if you’re enjoying Mozart and the Stones suddenly roll in?
Neurologically, multiple personalities resemble radio-controlled biological robots whose “station identification” uncontrollably fades from one ego identity to another. The unique behavior and personality expressed by each ego can be as vastly different as folk music is from acid rock.
While almost all attention has been placed on the psychiatric characteristics of persons affected with DID, there are also some surprising physiological consequences that accompany ego change. Each of the alternate personalities has a unique electroencephalogram (EEG) profile, which is a biomarker equivalent to a neurological fingerprint. Simply put, each individual persona comes with its own unique brain programming. Incredible as that may seem, many persons with multiple personalities change eye color in the short interval it takes to transition from one ego to the next. Some have scars in one personality that inexplicably disappear as another personality emerges. Many exhibit allergies and sensitivities in one personality but not in another. How is this possible?
DID individuals might help us answer that question because they are the poster children for a burgeoning new field of science called psychoneuroimmunology, which, in people-speak, means the science (ology) of how the mind (psycho) controls the brain (neuro), which in turn controls the immune system (immun).
The paradigm-shattering implications of this new science are simply this: while the immune system is the guardian of our internal environment, the mind controls the immune system, which means the mind shapes the character of our health. While DID represents a dysfunction, it undeniably reveals the fact that programs in our mind control our health and well-being as well as our diseases and our ability to overcome those diseases.
Now you might be saying, “What? Beliefs control our biology? Mind over matter? Think positive thoughts? Is this more of that New Age fluff?” Certainly not! As we launch into a discussion of new-edge science you will see that the fluff stops here.