This article appeared in the Fall 2000 issue of Spirituality & Health.
A moment’s reflection on the human condition should tell us that we could never reduce the process of healing to a purely physical science. Our bodies are mechanisms, but they are strangely influenced and informed by the ways we think about them. Like a love affair, the body-mind relationship is in part a product of our beliefs about it. Who we are is inseparable from our myths of self. In some measure, the way we view ourselves determines our limits. Think of the four-minute mile. Or of the Yogis who practiced feats of suspended animation that were considered impossible in the West until we produced biofeedback machines that could produce the data that would allow us to believe that we could voluntarily control pulse and heart rate.
In the seminars on “Myth, Dis-ease and Self-Healing” I have conducted for 25 years, I have found that the healing of most serious illness involves a complex process in which a person undergoes a change in the way he or she views the relationship between self and body, self and disease, self a …
Sam Keen, whose Psychology Today conversations brought Joseph Campbell, Norman O. Brown, and other seminal thinkers to national attention, holds two M.A.s in theology from Harvard and a Princeton Ph.D. in philosophy. His books include the best-seller Fire in the Belly, Hymns to an Unknown God, and his most recent, Learning to Fly: Trapeze – Fear, Trust, and the Joy of Letting Go.