4 - I Sing the Body Holographic

You will hardly know who 1 am or what I mean. But I shall be good health to you nevertheless. . . .
• Walt Whitman,

“Song of Myself"

A sixty-one-year-old man we’ll call Frank was diagnosed as having an almost always fatal form of throat cancer and told he had less than a 5 percent chance of surviving.    


His weight had dropped from 130 to 98 pounds. He was extremely weak, could barely swallow his own saliva, and was having trouble breathing. Indeed, his doctors had debated whether to give him radiation therapy at all, because there was a distinct possibility the treatment would only add to his discomfort without significantly increasing his chances for survival. They decided to proceed anyway.

Then, to Frank’s great good fortune, Dr. O. Carl Simonton, a radiation oncologist and medical director of the Cancer Counseling and Research Center in Dallas, Texas, was asked to participate in his treatment Simonton suggested that Frank himself could influence the course of his own disease. Simonton then taught Frank a number of relaxation and mental-imagery techniques he and his colleagues had developed.


From that point on, three times a day, Frank pictured the radiation he received as consisting of millions of tiny bullets of energy bombarding his cells. He also visualized his cancer cells as weaker and more confused than his normal cells, and thus unable to repair the damage they suffered. Then he visualized his body’s white blood cells, the soldiers of the immune system, coming in, swarming over the dead and dying cancer cells, and carrying them to his liver and kidneys to be flushed out of his body.

The results were dramatic and far exceeded what usually happened in such cases when patients were treated solely with radiation. The radiation treatments worked like magic. Frank experienced almost none of the negative side effects - damage to skin and mucous membranes - that normally accompanied such therapy. He regained his lost weight and his strength, and in a mere two months all signs of his cancer had vanished. Simonton believes Frank’s remarkable recovery was due in large part to his daily regimen of visualization exercises.

In a follow-up study, Simonton and his colleagues taught their mental-imagery techniques to 159 patients with cancers considered medically incurable. The expected survival time for such a patient is twelve months. Four years later 63 of the patients were still alive. Of those, 14 showed no evidence of disease, the cancers were regressing in 12, and in 17 the disease was stable.


The average survival time of the group as a whole was 24.4 months, over twice as long as the national norm.1

Simonton has since conducted a number of similar studies, all with positive results. Despite such promising findings, his work is still considered controversial. For instance, critics argue that the individuals who participate in Simonton’s studies are not “average” patients. Many of them have sought Simonton out for the express purpose of learning his techniques, and this shows that they already have an extraordinary fighting spirit.


Nonetheless, many researchers find Simonton’s results compelling enough to support his work, and Simonton himself has set up the Simonton Cancer Center, a successful research and treatment facility in Pacific Palisades, California, devoted to teaching imagery techniques to patients who are fighting various illnesses. The therapeutic use of imagery has also captured the imagination of the public, and a recent survey revealed that it was the fourth most frequently used alternative treatment for cancer.2

How is it that an image formed in the mind can have an effect on something as formidable as an incurable cancer? Not surprisingly the holographic theory of the brain can be used to explain this phenomenon as well. Psychologist Jeanne Achterberg, director of research and rehabilitation science at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Dallas, Texas, and one of the scientists who helped develop the imagery techniques Simonton uses, believes it is the holographic imaging capabilities of the brain that provide the key.

As has been noted, all experiences are ultimately just neurophysiological processes taking place in the brain. According to the holographic model the reason we experience some things, such as emotions, as internal realities and others, such as the songs of birds and the barking of dogs, as external realities is because that is where the brain localizes them when it creates the internal hologram that we experience as reality.


However, as we have also seen, the brain cannot always distinguish between what is “out there” and what it believes to be “out there,” and that is why amputees sometimes have phantom limb sensations. Put another way, in a brain that operates holographically, the remembered image of a thing can have as much impact on the senses as the thing itself.

It can also have an equally powerful effect on the body’s physiology, a state of affairs that has been experienced firsthand by anyone who has ever felt their heart race after imagining hugging a loved one. Or anyone who has ever felt their palms grow sweaty after conjuring up the memory of some unusually frightening experience.


At first glance the fact that the body cannot always distinguish between an imagined event and a real one may seem strange, but when one takes the holographic model into account - a model that asserts that all experiences, whether real or imagined, are reduced to the same common language of holographically organized wave forms - the situation becomes much less puzzling.


Or as Achterberg puts it,

“When images are regarded in the holographic manner, their omnipotent influence on physical function logically follows. The image, the behavior, and the physiological concomitants are a unified aspect of the same phenomenon.”3

Bohm uses his idea of the implicate order, the deeper and nonlocal level of existence from which our entire universe springs, to echo the sentiment.

“Every action starts from an intention in the implicate order. The imagination is already the creation of the form; it already has the intention and the germs of all the movements needed to carry it out And it affects the body and so on, so that as creation takes place in that way from the subtler levels of the implicate order, it goes through them until it manifests in the explicate.”4

In other words, in the implicate order, as in the brain itself, imagination and reality are ultimately indistinguishable, and it should therefore come as no surprise to us that images in the mind can ultimately manifest as realities in the physical body.

Achterberg found that the physiological effects produced through the use of imagery are not only powerful, but can also be extremely specific. For example, the term white blood cell actually refers to a number of different kinds of cell. In one study, Achterberg decided to see if she could train individuals to increase the number of only one particular type of white blood cell in their body. To do this she taught one group of college students how to image a cell known as a neutrophil, the major constituent of the white blood cell population.


She trained a second group to image T-cells, a more specialized kind of white blood cell. At the end of the study the group that learned the neutrophil imagery had a significant increase in the number of neutrophils in their body, but no change in the number of T-cells. The group that learned to image T-cells had a significant increase in the number of that kind of cell, but the number of neutrophils in their body remained the same.5

Achterberg says that belief is also critical to a person’s health. As she points out, virtually everyone who has had contact with the medical world knows at least one story of a patient who was sent home to die, but because they “believed” otherwise, they astounded their doctors by completely recovering. In her fascinating book Imagery in Healing she describes several of her own encounters with such cases. In one, a woman was comatose on admission, paralyzed, and diagnosed with a massive brain tumor.


She underwent surgery to “debulk” her tumor (remove as much as is safely possible), but because she was considered close to death, she was sent home without receiving either radiation or chemotherapy.

Instead of promptly dying, the woman became stronger by the day. As her biofeedback therapist, Achterberg was able to monitor the woman’s progress, and by the end of sixteen months the woman showed no evidence of cancer.




Although the woman was intelligent in a worldly sense, she was only moderately educated and did not really know the meaning of the word tumor - or the death sentence it imparted. Hence, she did not believe she was going to die and overcame her cancer with the same confidence and determination she’d used to overcome every other illness in her life, says Achterberg.


When Achterberg saw her last, the woman no longer had any traces of paralysis, had thrown away her leg braces and her cane, and had even been out dancing a couple of times.6



(missing pages 86 and 87)

Breznitz found that the stress hormone levels in the soldiers’ blood always reflected their estimates and not the actual distance they had marched.10 In other words, their bodies responded not to reality, but to what they were imaging as reality.

According to Dr. Charles A. Garfield, a former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) researcher and current president of the Performance Sciences Institute in Berkeley, California, the Soviets have extensively researched the relationship between imagery and physical performance. In one study a phalanx of world-class Soviet athletes was divided into four groups.


The first group spent 100 percent of their training time in training. The second spent 75 percent of their time training and 25 percent of their time visualizing the exact movements and accomplishments they wanted to achieve in their sport. The third spent 50 percent of their time training and 50 percent visualizing, and the fourth spent 25 percent training and 75 percent visualizing.


Unbelievably, at the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York, the fourth group showed the greatest improvement in performance, followed by groups three, two, and one, in that order.11

Garfield, who has spent hundreds of hours interviewing athletes and sports researchers around the world, says that the Soviets have incorporated sophisticated imagery techniques into many of their athletic programs and that they believe mental images act as precursors in the process of generating neuromuscular impulses. Garfield believes imagery works because movement is recorded holographically in the brain.


In his book Peak Performance: Mental Training Techniques of the World’s Greatest Athletes, he states,

“These images are holographic and function primarily at the subliminal level. The holographic imaging mechanism enables you to quickly solve spatial problems such as assembling a complex machine, choreographing a dance routine, or running visual images of plays through your mind.”12

Australian psychologist Alan Richardson has obtained similar results with basketball players. He took three groups of basketball players and tested their ability to make free throws. Then he instructed the first group to spend twenty minutes a day practicing free throws. He told the second group not to practice, and had the third group spend twenty minutes a day visualizing that they were shooting perfect baskets.


As might be expected, the group that did nothing showed no improvement.


The first group improved 24 percent, but through the power of imagery alone, the third group improved an astonishing 23 percent, almost as much as the group that practiced.13


The Lack of Division Between Health and Illness
Physician Larry Dossey believes that imagery is not the only tool the holographic mind can use to effect changes in the body.


Another is simply the recognition of the unbroken wholeness of all things. As Dossey observes, we have a tendency to view illness as external to us. Disease comes from without and besieges us, upsetting our well-being. But if space and time, and all other things in the universe, are truly inseparable, then we cannot make a distinction between health and disease.

How can we put this knowledge to practical use in our lives?


When we stop seeing illness as something separate and instead view it as part of a larger whole, as a milieu of behavior, diet, sleep, exercise patterns, and various other relationships with the world at large, we often get better, says Dossey. As evidence he calls attention to a study in which chronic headache sufferers were asked to keep a diary of the frequency and severity of their headaches.


Although the record was intended to be a first step in preparing the headache sufferers for further treatment, most of the subjects found that when they began to keep a diary, their headaches disappeared!14

In another experiment cited by Dossey, a group of epileptic children and their families were videotaped as they interacted with one an other. Occasionally, there were emotional outbursts during the sessions, which were often followed by actual seizures. When the children were shown the tapes and saw the relationship between these emotional events and their seizures, they became almost seizure-free.15


"By keeping a diary or watching a videotape, the subjects were able to see their condition in relationship to the larger pattern of their lives. When this happens, illness can no longer be viewed “as an” intruding disease originating elsewhere, but as part of a process of living which can accurately be described as an unbroken whole,” says Dossey. “When our focus is toward a principle of relatedness and oneness, and away from fragmentation and isolation, health en sues.”16

Dossey feels the word patient is as misleading as the word particle. Instead of being separate and fundamentally isolated biological units, we are essentially dynamic processes and patterns that are no more analyzable into parts than are electrons. More than this, we are connected, connected to the forces that create both sickness and health, to the beliefs of our society, to the attitudes of our friends, our family, and our doctors, and to the images, beliefs, and even the very words we use to apprehend the universe.

In a holographic universe we are also connected to our bodies, and in the preceding pages we have seen some of the ways these connections manifest themselves. But there are others, perhaps even an infinity of others.


As Pribram states,

“If indeed every part of our body is a reflection of the whole, then there must be all kinds of mechanisms to control what’s going on. Nothing is firm at this point”17

Given our ignorance in the matter, instead of asking how the mind controls the body holographic, perhaps a more important question is,

  • What is the extent of this control?

  • Are there any limitations on it, and if so, what are they?

That is the question to which we now turn our attention.



The Healing Power of Nothing at All
Another medical phenomenon that provides us with a tantalizing glimpse of the control the mind has over the body is the placebo effect.


A placebo is any medical treatment that has no specific action on the body but is given either to humor a patient, or as a control in a double-blind experiment, that is, a study in which one group of individuals is given a real treatment and another group is given a fake treatment.


In such experiments neither the researchers nor the individuals being tested know which group they are in so that the effects of the real treatment can be assessed more accurately. Sugar pills are often used as placebos in drug studies. So is saline solution (distilled water with salt in it), although placebos need not always be drugs. Many believe that any medical benefit derived from crystals, copper bracelets, and other nontraditional remedies is also due to the placebo effect.

Even surgery has been used as a placebo.


In the 1950s, angina pectoris, recurrent pain in the chest and left arm due to decreased blood flow to the heart, was commonly treated with surgery. Then some resourceful doctors decided to conduct an experiment. Rather than perform the customary surgery, which involved tying off the mammary artery, they cut patients open and then simply sewed them back up again. The patients who received the sham surgery reported just as much relief as the patients who had the full surgery. The full surgery, as it turned out, was only producing a placebo effect.18


Nonetheless, the success of the sham surgery indicates that somewhere deep in all of us we have the ability to control angina pectoris.

And that is not all. In the last half century the placebo effect has been extensively researched in hundreds of different studies around the world. We now know that on average 35 percent of all people who receive a given placebo will experience a significant effect although this number can vary greatly from situation to situation.


In addition to angina pectoris, conditions that have proved responsive to placebo treatment include migraine headaches, allergies, fever, the common cold, acne, asthma, warts, various kinds of pain, nausea and seasickness, peptic ulcers, psychiatric syndromes such as depression and anxiety, rheumatoid and degenerative arthritis, diabetes, radiation sickness, Parkinsonism, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.

Clearly these range from the not so serious to the life threatening, but placebo effects on even the mildest conditions may involve physiological changes that are near miraculous. Take, for example, the lowly wart. Warts are a small tumorous growth on the skin caused by a virus. They are also extremely easy to cure through the use of placebos, as is evidenced by the nearly endless folk rituals - ritual itself being a kind of placebo - that are used by various cultures to get rid of them.


Lewis Thomas, president emeritus of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, tells of one physician who regularly rid his patients of warts simply by painting a harmless purple dye on them.


Thomas feels that explaining this small miracle by saying it’s just the unconscious mind at work doesn’t begin to do the placebo effect justice.

“If my unconscious can figure out how to manipulate the mechanisms needed for getting around that virus, and for deploying all the various cells in the correct order for tissue rejection, then all I have to say is that my unconscious is a lot further along than I am,” he states.19

The effectiveness of a placebo in any given circumstance also varies greatly. In nine double-blind studies comparing placebos to aspirin, placebos proved to be 54 percent as effective as the actual analgesic.20 From this one might expect that placebos would be even less effective when compared to a much stronger painkiller such as morphine, but this is not the case.


In six double-blind studies placebos were found to be 56 percent as effective as morphine in relieving pain! 21



One factor that can affect the effectiveness of a placebo is the method in which it is given. Injections are generally perceived as more potent than pills, and hence giving a placebo in an injection can enhance its effectiveness.


Similarly, capsules are often seen as more effective than tablets, and even the size, shape, and color of a pill can play a role. In a study designed to determine the suggestive value of a pill’s color, researchers found that people tend to view yellow or orange pills as mood manipulators, either stimulants or depressants. Dark red pills are assumed to be sedatives; lavender pills, hallucinogens; and white pills, painkillers.22

Another factor is the attitude the doctor conveys when he prescribes the placebo. Dr. David Sobel, a placebo specialist at Kaiser Hospital, California, relates the story of a doctor treating an asthma patient who was having an unusually difficult time keeping his bronchial tubes open. The doctor ordered a sample of a potent new medicine from a pharmaceutical company and gave it to the man.


Within minutes the man showed spectacular improvement and breathed more easily. However, the next time he had an attack, the doctor decided to see what would happen if he gave the man a placebo. This time the man complained that there must be something wrong with the prescription because it didn’t completely eliminate his breathing difficulty. This convinced the doctor that the sample drug was indeed a potent new asthma medication - until he received a letter from the pharmaceutical company informing him that instead of the new drug, they had accidentally sent him a placebo.!


Apparently it was the doctor’s unwitting enthusiasm for the first placebo, and not the second, that accounted for the discrepancy.23

In terms of the holographic model, the man’s remarkable response to the placebo asthma medication can again be explained by the mind/body’s ultimate inability to distinguish between an imagined reality and a real one. The man believed he was being given a powerful new asthma drug, and this belief had as dramatic a physiological effect on his lungs as if he had been given a real drug.


Achterberg’s warning that the neural holograms that impact on our health are varied and multifaceted is also underscored by the fact that even something as subtle as the doctor’s slightly different attitude (and perhaps body language) while administering the two placebos was enough to cause one to work and the other to fail. It is clear from this that even information received subliminally can contribute greatly to the beliefs and mental images that impact on our health.


One wonders how many drugs have worked (or not worked) because of the attitude the doctor conveyed while administering them.


Tumors That Melt Like Snowballs on a Hot Stove
Understanding the role such factors play in a placebo’s effectiveness is important, for it shows how our ability to control the body holographic is molded by our beliefs.


Our minds have the power to get rid of warts, to clear our bronchial tubes, and to mimic the painkilling ability of morphine, but because we are unaware that we possess the power, we must be fooled into using it.


This might almost be comic if it were not for the tragedies that often result from our ignorance of our own power.

No incident better illustrates this than a now famous case reported by psychologist Bruno Klopfer. Klopfer was treating a man named Wright who had advanced cancer of the lymph nodes. All standard treatments had been exhausted, and Wright appeared to have little time left. His neck, armpits, chest, abdomen, and groin were filled with tumors the size of oranges, and his spleen and liver were so enlarged that two quarts of milky fluid had to be drained out of his chest every day.

But Wright did not want to die. He had heard about an exciting new drug called Krebiozen, and he begged his doctor to let him try it. At first his doctor refused because the drug was only being tried on people with a life expectancy of at least three months. But Wright was so unrelenting in his entreaties, his doctor finally gave in.


He gave Wright an injection of Krebiozen on Friday, but in his heart of hearts he did not expect Wright to last the weekend. Then the doctor went home.

To his surprise, on the following Monday he found Wright out of bed and walking around. Klopfer reported that his tumors had “melted like snowballs on a hot stove” and were half their original size.


This was a far more rapid decrease in size than even the strongest X-ray treatments could have accomplished. Ten days after Wright’s first Krebiozen treatment, he left the hospital and was, as far as his doctors could tell, cancer free. When he had entered the hospital he had needed an oxygen mask to breathe, but when he left he was well enough to fly his own plane at 12,000 feet with no discomfort.

Wright remained well for about two months, but then articles began to appear asserting that Krebiozen actually had no effect on cancer of the lymph nodes. Wright, who was rigidly logical and scientific in his thinking, became very depressed, suffered a relapse, and was readmitted to the hospital. This time his physician decided to try an experiment. He told Wright that Krebiozen was every bit as effective as it had seemed, but that some of the initial supplies of the drug had deteriorated during shipping. He explained, however, that he had a new highly concentrated version of the drug and could treat Wright with this.


Of course the physician did not have a new version of the drug and intended to inject Wright with plain water. To create the proper atmosphere he even went through an elaborate procedure before injecting Wright with the placebo.

Again the results were dramatic. Tumor masses melted, chest fluid vanished, and Wright was quickly back on his feet and feeling great. He remained symptom-free for another two months, but then the American Medical Association announced that a nationwide study of Krebiozen had found the drug worthless in the treatment of cancer. This time Wright’s faith was completely shattered.


His cancer blossomed anew and he died two days later.24

Wright’s story is tragic, but it contains a powerful message: When we are fortunate enough to bypass our disbelief and tap the healing forces within us, we can cause tumors to melt away overnight.

In the case of Krebiozen only one person was involved, but there are similar cases involving many more people. Take a chemotherapeutic agent called cis-platinum. When cis-platinum first became available it, too, was touted as a wonder drug, and 75 percent of the people who received it benefited from the treatment. But after the initial wave of excitement and the use of cis-platinum became more routine, its rate of effectiveness dropped to about 25 to 30 percent.


Apparently most of the benefit obtained from cis-platinum was due to the placebo effect.25



Do Any Drugs Really Work?
Such incidents raise an important question. If drugs such as Krebiozen and cis-platinum work when we believe in them and stop working when we stop believing in them, what does this imply about the nature of drugs in general?


This is a difficult question to answer, but we do have some clues. For instance, physician Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School points out that the vast majority of treatments prescribed prior to this century, from leeching to consuming lizard’s blood, were useless, but because of the placebo effect, they were no doubt helpful at least some of the time.26

Benson, along with Dr. David P. McCallie, Jr., of Harvard’s Thorn-dike Laboratory, reviewed studies of various treatments for angina pectoris that have been prescribed over the years and discovered that although remedies have come and gone, the success rates - even for treatments that are now discredited - have always remained high.27


From these two observations it is evident that the placebo effect has played an important role in medicine in the past, but does it still play a role today? The answer, it seems, is yes. The federal Office of Technology Assessment estimates that more than 75 percent of all current medical treatments have not been subjected to sufficient scientific scrutiny, a figure that suggests that doctors may still be giving placebos and not know it (Benson, for one, believes that, at the very least, many over-the-counter medications act primarily as placebos).28

Given the evidence we have looked at so far, one might almost wonder if all drugs are placebos. Clearly the answer is no. Many drugs are effective whether we believe in them or not: Vitamin C gets rid of scurvy, and insulin makes diabetics better even when they are skeptical. But still the issue is not quite as clear-cut as it may seem.


Consider the following.

In a 1962 experiment Drs. Harriet Linton and Robert Langs told test subjects they were going to participate in a study of the effects of LSD, but then gave them a placebo instead. Nonetheless, half an hour after taking the placebo, the subjects began to experience the classic symptoms of the actual drug, loss of control, supposed insight into the meaning of existence, and so on. These “placebo trips” lasted several hours.29

A few years later, in 1966, the now infamous Harvard psychologist Richard Alpert journeyed to the East to look for holy men who could offer him insight into the LSD experience. He found several who were willing to sample the drug and, interestingly, received a variety of reactions. One pundit told him it was good, but not as good as meditation.


Another, a Tibetan lama, complained that it only gave him a headache.

But the reaction that fascinated Alpert most came from a wizened little holy man in the foothills of the Himalayas. Because the man was over sixty, Alpert’s first inclination was to give him a gentle dose of 50 to 75 micrograms. But the man was much more interested in one of the 305 microgram pills Alpert had brought with him, a relatively sizable dose.


Reluctantly, Alpert gave him one of the pills, but still the man was not satisfied. With a twinkle in his eye he requested another and then another and placed all 915 micrograms of LSD on his tongue, a massive dose by any standard, and swallowed them (in comparison, the average dose Grof used in his studies was about 200 micrograms).

Aghast, Alpert watched intently, expecting the man to start waving his arms and whooping like a banshee, but instead he behaved as if nothing had happened. He remained that way for the rest of the day, his demeanor as serene and unperturbed as it always was, save for the twinkling glances he occasionally tossed Alpert. The LSD apparently had little or no effect on him.


Alpert was so moved by the experience he gave up LSD, changed his name to Ram Dass, and converted to mysticism.30

And so taking a placebo may well produce the same effect as taking the real drug, and taking the real drug might produce no effect. This topsy-turvy state of affairs has also been demonstrated in experiments involving amphetamines. In one study, ten subjects were placed in each of two rooms. In the first room, nine were given a stimulating amphetamine and the tenth a sleep-producing barbiturate. In the second room the situation was reversed.


In both instances, the person singled out behaved exactly as his companions did. In the first room instead of falling asleep the lone barbiturate taker became animated and speedy, and in the second room the lone amphetamine taker fell asleep.31


There is also a case on record of a man addicted to the stimulant Ritalin, whose addiction is then transferred to a placebo. In other words, the man’s doctor enabled him to avoid all the usual unpleasantries of Ritalin withdrawal by secretly replacing his prescription with sugar pills. Unfortunately the man then went on to display an addiction to the placebo! 32

Such events are not limited to experimental situations. Placebos also play a role in our everyday lives. Does caffeine keep you awake at night? Research has shown that even an injection of caffeine won’t keep caffeine-sensitive individuals awake if they believe they are receiving a sedative.33 Has an antibiotic ever helped you get over a cold or sore throat? If so, you were experiencing the placebo effect.


All colds are caused by viruses, as are several types of sore throat, and antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections, not viral infections. Have you ever experienced an unpleasant side effect after taking a medication? In a study of a tranquilizer called mephenesin, researchers found that 10 to 20 percent of the test subjects experienced negative side effects - including nausea, itchy rash, and heart palpitations - regardless of whether they were given the actual drug or a placebo.* 34


* Of course I am by all means not suggesting that all drug side effects are the result of the placebo effect. Should you experience a negative reaction to a drug, always consult a physician.


Similarly, in a recent study of a new kind of chemotherapy, 30 percent of the individuals in the control group, the group given placebos, lost their hair.35 So if you know someone who is taking chemotherapy, tell them to try to be optimistic in their expectations. The mind is a powerful thing.

In addition to offering us a glimpse of this power, placebos also support a more holographic approach to understanding the mind/body relationship. As health and nutrition columnist Jane Brody observes in an article in the New York Times,

“The effectiveness of placebos provides dramatic support for a ‘holistic’ view of the human organism, a view that is receiving increasing attention in medical research. This view holds that the mind and body continually interact and are too closely interwoven to be treated as independent entities.” 36

The placebo effect may also be affecting us in far vaster ways than we realize, as is evidenced by a recent and extremely puzzling medical mystery. If you have watched any television at all in the last year or so, you have no doubt seen a blitzkrieg of commercials promoting aspirin’s ability to decrease the risk of heart attack.


There is a good deal of convincing evidence to back this up, otherwise television censors, who are real sticklers for accuracy when it comes to medical claims in commercials, wouldn’t allow such copy on the air. This is all well and good.


The only problem is that aspirin doesn’t seem to have the same effect on people in England. A six-year study of 5,139 British doctors revealed no evidence that aspirin reduces the risk of heart attack.37 Is there a flaw in somebody’s research, or is it possible that some kind of massive placebo effect is to blame?


Whatever the case, don’t stop believing in the prophylactic benefits of aspirin. It still may save your life.



The Health Implications of Multiple Personality
Another condition that graphically illustrates the mind’s power to affect the body is Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). In addition to possessing different brain-wave patterns, the subpersonalities of a multiple have a strong psychological separation from one another.

Each has his own name, age, memories, and abilities. Often each also has his own style of handwriting, announced gender, cultural and racial background, artistic talents, foreign language fluency, and IQ.

Even more noteworthy are the biological changes that take place in a multiple’s body when they switch personalities. Frequently a medical condition possessed by one personality will mysteriously vanish when another personality takes over.


Dr. Bennett Braun of the International Society for the Study of Multiple Personality, in Chicago, has documented a case in which all of a patient’s subpersonalities were allergic to orange juice, except one. If the man drank orange juice when one of his allergic personalities was in control, he would break out in a terrible rash. But if he switched to his non-allergic personality, the rash would instantly start to fade and he could drink orange juice freely.38

Dr. Francine Rowland, a Yale psychiatrist who specializes in treating multiples, relates an even more striking incident concerning one multiple’s reaction to a wasp sting. On the occasion in question, the man showed up for his scheduled appointment with Rowland with his eye completely swollen shut from a wasp sting. Realizing he needed medical attention, Howland called an ophthalmologist


Unfortunately, the soonest the opthalmologist could see the man was an hour later, and because the man was in severe pain, Howland decided to try something. As it turned out, one of the man’s alternates was an “anesthetic personality” who felt absolutely no pain. Howland had the anesthetic personality take control of the body, and the pain ended. But something else also happened.


By the time the man arrived at his appointment with the ophthalmologist, the swelling was gone and his eye had returned to normal. Seeing no need to treat him, the ophthalmologist sent him home.

After a while, however, the anesthetic personality relinquished control of the body, and the man’s original personality returned, along with all the pain and swelling of the wasp sting. The next day he went back to the ophthalmologist to at last be treated.


Neither Rowland nor her patient had told the ophthalmologist that the man was a multiple, and after treating him, the ophthalmologist telephoned Rowland.

“He thought time was playing tricks on him.” Rowland laughed. “He just wanted to make sure that I had actually called him the day before and he had not imagined it”39

Allergies are not the only thing multiples can switch on and off. If there was any doubt as to the control the unconscious mind has over drug effects, it is banished by the pharmacological wizardry of the multiple.


By changing personalities, a multiple who is drunk can instantly become sober. Different personalities also respond differently to different drugs. Braun records a case in which 5 milligrams of diazepam, a tranquilizer, sedated one personality, while 100 milligrams had little or no effect on another. Often one or several of a multiple’s personalities are children, and if an adult personality is given a drug and then a child’s personality takes over, the adult dosage may be too much for the child and result in an overdose.


It is also difficult to anesthetize some multiples, and there are accounts of multiples waking up on the operating table after one of their “unanesthetizable” subpersonalities has taken over.

Other conditions that can vary from personality to personality include scars, burn marks, cysts, and left- and right-handedness. Visual acuity can differ, and some multiples have to carry two or three different pairs of eyeglasses to accommodate their alternating personalities. One personality can be color-blind and another not, and even eye color can change. There are cases of women who have two or three menstrual periods each month because each of their subpersonalities has its own cycle.


Speech pathologist Christy Ludlow has found that the voice pattern for each of a multiple’s personalities is different, a feat that requires such a deep physiological change that even the most accomplished actor cannot alter his voice enough to disguise his voice pattern.40 One multiple, admitted to a hospital for diabetes, baffled her doctors by showing no symptoms when one of her non-diabetic personalities was in control.41


There are accounts of epilepsy coming and going with changes in personality, and psychologist Robert A. Phillips, Jr., reports that even tumors can appear and disappear (although he does not specify what kind of tumors).42

Multiples also tend to heal faster than normal individuals. For example, there are several cases on record of third-degree burns healing with extraordinary rapidity. Most eerie of all, at least one researcher - Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, the therapist whose pioneering treatment of Sybil Dorsett was portrayed in the book Sybil - is convinced that multiples don’t age as fast as other people.

How could such things be?


At a recent symposium on the multiple personality syndrome, a multiple named Cassandra provided a possible answer. Cassandra attributes her own rapid healing ability both to the visualization techniques she practices and to something she calls parallel processing. As she explained, even when her alternate personalities are not in control of her body, they are still aware. This enables her to “think” on a multitude of different channels at once, to do things like work on several different term papers simultaneously, and even “sleep” while other personalities prepare her dinner and clean her house.

Hence, whereas normal people only do healing imagery exercises two or three times a day, Cassandra does them around the clock. She even has a subpersonality named Celese who possesses a thorough knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and whose sole function is to spend twenty-four hours a day meditating and imaging the body’s well-being. According to Cassandra, it is this full-time attention to her health that gives her an edge over normal people. Other multiples have made similar claims.43

We are deeply attached to the inevitability of things. If we have bad vision, we believe we will have bad vision for life, and if we suffer from diabetes, we do not for a moment think our condition might vanish with a change in mood or thought. But the phenomenon of multiple personality challenges this belief and offers further evidence of just how much our psychological states can affect the body’s biology.


If the psyche of an individual with MPD is a kind of multiple image hologram, it appears that the body is one as well, and can switch from one biological state to another as rapidly as the flutter of a deck of cards.

The systems of control that must be in place to account for such capacities is mind-boggling and makes our ability to will away a wart look pale. Allergic reaction to a wasp sting is a complex and multi-faceted process and involves the organized activity of antibodies, the production of histamine, the dilation and rupture of blood vessels, the excessive release of immune substances, and so on.


What unknown pathways of influence enable the mind of a multiple to freeze all these processes in their tracks? Or what allows them to suspend the effects of alcohol and other drugs in the blood, or turn diabetes on and off? At the moment we don’t know and must console ourselves with one simple fact. Once a multiple has undergone therapy and in some way becomes whole again, he or she can still make these switches at will.44


This suggests that somewhere in our psyches we all have the ability to control these things.


And still this is not all we can do.


Pregnancy, Organ Transplants, and Tapping the Genetic Level
As we have seen, simple everyday belief can also have a powerful effect on the body.


Of course most of us do not have the mental discipline to completely control our beliefs (which is why doctors must use placebos to fool us into tapping the healing forces within us).


To regain that control we must first understand the different types of belief that can affect us, for these too offer their own unique window on the plasticity of the mind/body relationship.


One type of belief is imposed on us by our society. For example, the people of the Trobriand Islands engage freely in sexual relations before marriage, but premarital pregnancy is strongly frowned upon. They use no form of contraception, and seldom if ever resort to abortion. Yet premarital pregnancy is virtually unknown. This suggests that, because of their cultural beliefs, the unmarried women are unconsciously preventing themselves from getting-pregnant.45


There is evidence that something similar may be going on in our own culture. Almost everyone knows of a couple who have tried unsuccessfully for years to have a child. They finally adopt, and shortly thereafter the woman gets pregnant. Again this suggests that finally having a child enabled the woman and/or her husband to overcome some sort of inhibition that was blocking the effects of her and/or his fertility.

The fears we share with the other members of our culture can also affect us greatly. In the nineteenth century, tuberculosis killed tens of thousands of people, but starting in the 1880s, death rates began to plummet. Why? Previous to that decade no one knew what caused TB, which gave it an aura of terrifying mystery. But in 1882 Dr. Robert Koch made the momentous discovery that TB was caused by a bacterium. Once this knowledge reached the general public, death rates fell from 600 per 100,000 to 200 per 100,000, despite the fact that it would be nearly half a century before an effective drug treatment could be found.46

Fear apparently has been an important factor in the success rates of organ transplants as well. In the 1950s kidney transplants were only a tantalizing possibility. Then a doctor in Chicago made what seemed to be a successful transplant He published his findings, and soon after other successful transplants took place around the world. Then the first transplant failed. In fact, the doctor discovered that the kidney had actually been rejected from the start. But it did not matter.


Once transplant recipients believed they could survive, they did, and success rates soared beyond all expectations.47



Another way belief manifests in our lives is through our attitudes. Studies have shown that the attitude an expectant mother has toward her baby, and pregnancy in general, has a direct correlation with the complications she will experience during childbirth, as well as with the medical problems her newborn infant will have after it is born.48


Indeed, in the past decade an avalanche of studies has poured in demonstrating the effect our attitudes have on a host of medical conditions. People who score high on tests designed to measure hostility and aggression are seven times more likely to die from heart problems than people who receive low scores.49


Married women have stronger immune systems than separated or divorced women, and happily married women have even stronger immune systems.50 People with AIDS who display a fighting spirit live longer than AIDS-infected individuals who have a passive attitude.51 People with cancer also live longer if they maintain a fighting spirit,52 Pessimists get more colds than optimists.53


Stress lowers the immune response;54 people who have just lost their spouse have an increased incidence of illness and disease,55 and on and on.



The types of belief we have examined so far can be viewed largely as passive beliefs, beliefs we allow our culture or the normal state of our thoughts to impose upon us.


Conscious belief in the form of a steely and unswerving will can also be used to sculpt and control the body holographic. In the 1970s, Jack Schwarz, a Dutch-born author and lecturer, astounded researchers in laboratories across the United States with his ability to willfully control his body’s internal biological processes.

In studies conducted at the Menninger Foundation, the University of California’s Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute, and others, Schwarz astonished doctors by sticking mammoth six-inch sailmaker’s needles completely through his arms without bleeding, without flinching, and without producing beta brain waves (the type of brain waves normally produced when a person is in pain). Even when the needles were removed, Schwara still did not bleed, and the puncture holes closed tightly.


In addition, Schwarz altered his brain-wave rhythms at will, held burning cigarettes against his flesh without harming himself, and even carried live coals around in his hands. He claims he acquired these abilities when he was in a Nazi concentration camp and had to learn how to control pain in order to withstand the terrible beatings he endured. He believes anyone can learn voluntary control of their body and thus gain responsibility for his or her own health.55

Oddly enough, in 1947 another Dutchman demonstrated similar abilities. The man’s name was Mirin Dajo, and in public performances at the Corso Theater in Zurich, he left audiences stunned. In plain view Dajo would have an assistant stick a fencing foil completely through his body, clearly piercing vital organs but causing Dajo no harm or pain. Like Schwarz, when the foil was removed, Dajo did not bleed and only a faint red line marked the spot where the foil had entered and exited.

Dajo’s performance proved so nerve-racking to his audiences that eventually one spectator suffered a heart attack, and Dajo was legally banned from performing in public. However, a Swiss doctor named Hans Naegeli-Osjord learned of Dajo’s alleged abilities and asked him if he would submit to scientific scrutiny. Dajo agreed, and on May 31, 1947, he entered the Zurich cantonal hospital.


In addition to Dr. Naegeli-Osjord, Dr. Werner Brunner, the chief of surgery at the hospital, was also present, as were numerous other doctors, students, and journalists. Dajo bared his chest and concentrated, and then, in full view of the assemblage, he had his assistant plunge the foil through his body.

As always, no blood flowed and Dajo remained completely at ease. But he was the only one smiling. The rest of the crowd had turned to stone. By all rights, Dajo’s vital organs should have been severely damaged, and his seeming good health was almost too much for the doctors to bear. Filled with disbelief, they asked Dajo if he would submit to an X ray. He agreed and without apparent effort accompanied them up the stairs to the X-ray room, the foil still through his abdomen.


The X ray was taken and the result was undeniable. Dajo was indeed impaled. Finally, a full twenty minutes after he had been pierced, the foil was removed, leaving only two faint scars. Later, Dajo was tested by scientists in Basel, and even let the doctors themselves run him through with the foil. Dr. Naegeli-Osjord later related the entire case to the German physicist Alfred Stelter, and Stelter reports it in his book Psi-Heating.57

Such supernormal feats of control are not limited to the Dutch.


In the 1960s Gilbert Grosvenor, the president of the National Geographic Society, his wife, Donna, and a team of Geographic photographers visited a village in Ceylon to witness the alleged miracles of a local wonderworker named Mohotty. It seems that as a young boy Mohotty prayed to a Ceylonese divinity named Kataragama and told the god that if he cleared Mohotty’s father of a murder charge, he, Mohotty, would do yearly penance in Kataragama’s honor. Mohotty’s father was cleared, and true to his word, every year Mohotty did his penance.

This consisted of walking through fire and hot coals, piercing his cheeks with skewers, driving skewers into his arms from shoulder to wrist, sinking large hooks deep into his back, and dragging an enormous sledge around a courtyard with ropes attached to the hooks. As the Grosvenors later reported, the hooks pulled the flesh in Mohotty’s back quite taut, and again there was no sign of blood.


When Mohotty was finished and the hooks were removed, there weren’t even any traces of wounds. The Geographic team photographed this unnerving display and published both pictures and an account of the incident in the April 1966 issue of National Geographic.58

In 1967 Scientific American published a report about a similar annual ritual in India. In that instance a different person was chosen each year by the local community, and after a generous amount of ceremony, two hooks large enough to hang a side of beef on were buried in the victim’s back. Ropes that were pulled through the eyes of the hooks were tied to the boom of an ox cart, and the victim was then swung in huge areas over the fields as a sacramental offering to the fertility gods.


When the hooks were removed the victim was completely unharmed, there was no blood, and literally no sign of any punctures in the flesh itself.59



As we have seen, if we are not fortunate enough to have the self-mastery of a Dajo or a Mohotty, another way of accessing the healing force within us is to bypass the thick armor of doubt and skepticism that exists in our conscious minds.


Being tricked with a placebo is one way of accomplishing this. Hypnosis is another. Like a surgeon reaching in and altering the condition of an internal organ, a skilled hypnotherapist can reach into our psyche and help us change the most important type of belief of all, our unconscious beliefs.

Numerous studies have demonstrated irrefutably that under hypnosis a person can influence processes usually considered unconscious. For instance, like a multiple, deeply hypnotized persons can control allergic reactions, blood flow patterns, and nearsightedness. In addition, they can control heart rate, pain, body temperature, and even will away some kinds of birthmarks. Hypnosis can also be used to accomplish something that, in its own way, is every bit as remarkable as suffering no injury after a foil has been stuck through one’s abdomen.

That something involves a horribly disfiguring hereditary condition known as Brocq’s disease. Victims of Brocq’s disease develop a thick, horny covering over their skin that resembles the scales of a reptile. The skin can become so hardened and rigid that even the slightest movement will cause it to crack and bleed. Many of the so-called alligator-skinned people in circus sideshows were actually individuals with Brocq’s disease, and because of the risk of infection, victims of Brocq’s disease used to have relatively short life-spans.

Brocq’s disease was incurable until 1951 when a sixteen-year-old boy with an advanced case of the affliction was referred as a last resort to a hypnotherapist named A. A. Mason at the Queen Victoria Hospital in London. Mason discovered that the boy was a good hypnotic subject and could easily be put into a deep state of trance.


While the boy was in trance, Mason told him that his Brocq’s disease was healing and would soon be gone. Five days later the scaly layer covering the boy’s left arm fell off, revealing soft, healthy flesh beneath. By the end of ten days the arm was completely normal. Mason and the boy continued to work on different body areas until all of the scaly skin was gone. The boy remained symptom-free for at least five years, at which point Mason lost touch with him.60

This is extraordinary because Brocq’s disease is a genetic condition, and getting rid of it involves more than just controlling autonomic processes such as blood flow patterns and various cells of the immune system. It means tapping into the master-plan, our DNA programming itself.


So, it would appear that when we access the right strata of our beliefs, our minds can override even our genetic makeup.



A 1962 X ray showing the degree to which Vittorio Michelli’s hip bone had disintegrated as a result of his malignant sarcoma.

So little bone was left that the ball of his upper leg was free-floating in a mass of soft tissue, rendered as gray mist in the X ray.




After a series of baths in the spring at Lourdes, Michelli experienced a miraculous healing.

His hip bone completely regenerated over the course of several months, a feat currently considered impossible by medical science.

This 1965 X ray shows his miraculously restored hip joint.

[Source: Michel-Marie Salmon, The Extraordinary Cure of Vittorio Michelli. Used by permission]



Perhaps the most powerful types of belief of all are those we express through spiritual faith. In 1962 a man named Vittorio Michelli was admitted to the Military Hospital of Verona, Italy, with a large cancerous tumor on his left hip (see fig. 11).


So dire was his prognosis that he was sent home without treatment, and within ten months his hip had completely disintegrated, leaving the bone of his upper leg floating in nothing more than a mass of soft tissue. He was, quite literally, falling apart As a last resort he traveled to Lourdes and had himself bathed in the spring (by this time he was in a plaster cast, and his movements were quite restricted).


Immediately on entering the water he had a sensation of heat moving through his body. After the bath his appetite returned and he felt renewed energy. He had several more baths and then returned home.

Over the course of the next month he felt such an increasing sense of well-being he insisted his doctors X-ray him again. They discovered his tumor was smaller. They were so intrigued they documented every step in this improvement. It was a good thing because after Michelli’s tumor disappeared, his bone began to regenerate, and the medical community generally views this as an impossibility.


Within two months he was up and walking again, and over the course of the next several years his bone completely reconstructed itself (see fig. 12).

A dossier on Michelli’s case was sent to the Vatican’s Medical Commission, an international panel of doctors set up to investigate such matters, and after examining the evidence the commission decided Michelli had indeed experienced a miracle.


As the commission stated in its official report,

“A remarkable reconstruction of the iliac bone and cavity has taken place. The X rays made in 1964,1965,1968 and 1969 confirm categorically and without doubt that an unforeseen and even overwhelming bone reconstruction has taken place of a type unknown in the annals of world medicine.” * 61

Was Michelli’s healing a miracle in the sense that it violated any of the known laws of physics? Although the jury remains out on this question, there seems no clear-cut reason to believe any laws were violated.



* In a truly stunning example of synchronicity, while I was in the middle of writing these very words a letter armed in the mail informing me that a friend who lives in Kauai, Hawaii, and whose hip had disintegrated due to cancer has also experienced an “inexplicable” and complete regeneration of her bone. The tools she employed to effect her recovery were chemotherapy, extensive meditation, and imagery exercises. The story of her healing has been reported in the Hawaiian newspapers.

Rather, Michelli’s healing may simply be due to natural processes we do not yet understand. Given the phenomenal range of healing capacities we have looked at so far, it is clear there are many pathways of interaction between the mind and body that we do not yet understand.

If Michelli’s healing was attributable to an undiscovered natural process, we might better ask,

Why is the regeneration of bone so rare and what triggered it in Michelli’s case?

It may be that bone regeneration is rare because achieving it requires the accessing of very deep levels of the psyche, levels usually not reached through the normal activities of consciousness. This appears to be why hypnosis is needed to bring about a remission of Brocq’s disease.


As for what triggered Michelli’s healing, given the role belief plays in so many examples of mind/body plasticity it is certainly a primary suspect. Could it be that through his faith in the healing power of Lourdes, Michelli somehow, either consciously or serendipitously, effected his own cure?

There is strong evidence that belief, not divine intervention, is the prime mover in at least some so-called miraculous occurrences. Recall that Mohotty attained his supernormal self-control by praying to Kata-ragama, and unless we are willing to accept the existence of Katara-gama, Mohotty's abilities seem better explained by his deep and abiding belief that he was divinely protected. The same seems to be true of many miracles produced by Christian wonder-workers and saints.

One Christian miracle that appears to be generated by the power of the mind is stigmata. Most church scholars agree that St. Francis of Assisi was the first person to manifest spontaneously the wounds of the crucifixion, but since his death there have been literally hundreds of other stigmatists. Although no two ascetics exhibit the stigmata in quite the same way, all have one thing in common.


From St. Francis on, all have had wounds on their hands and feet that represent where Christ was nailed to the cross. This is not what one would expect if stigmata were God-given. As parapsychologist D. Scott Rogo, a member of the graduate faculty at John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, California, points out, it was Roman custom to place the nails through the wrists, and skeletal remains from the time of Christ bear this out Nails inserted through the hands cannot support the weight of a body hanging on a cross.62

Why did St. Francis and all the other stigmatists who came after him believe the nail holes passed through the hands?


Because that is the way the wounds have been depicted by artists since the eighth century. That the position and even size and shape of stigmata have been influenced by art is especially apparent in the case of an Italian stigmatist named Gemma Galgani, who died in 1903. Gemma’s wounds precisely mirrored the stigmata on her own favorite crucifix.

Another researcher who believed stigmata are self-induced was Herbert Thurston, an English priest who wrote several volumes on miracles. In his tour de force The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism, published posthumously in 1952, he listed several reasons why he thought stigmata were a product of autosuggestion.


The size, shape, and location of the wounds varies from stigmatist to stigmatist, an inconsistency that indicates they are not derived from a common source, i.e., the actual wounds of Christ.


A comparison of the visions experienced by various stigmatists also shows little consistency, suggesting that they are not reenactments of the historical crucifixion, but are instead products of the stigmatists’ own minds. And perhaps most significant of all, a surprisingly large percentage of stigmatists also suffered from hysteria, a fact Thurston interpreted as a further indication that stigmata are the side effect of a volatile and abnormally emotional psyche, and not necessarily the product of an enlightened one.63


In view of such evidence it is small wonder that even some of the more liberal members of the Catholic leadership believe stigmata are the product of “mystical contemplation,” that is, that they are created by the mind during periods of intense meditation.

If stigmata are products of autosuggestion, the range of control the mind has over the body holographic must be expanded even further. Like Mohotty’s wounds, stigmata can also heal with disconcerting speed. The almost limitless plasticity of the body is further evidenced in the ability of some stigmatists to grow nail-like protuberances in the middle of their wounds.


Again, St. Francis was the first to display this phenomenon.


According to Thomas of Celano, an eyewitness to St. Francis’s stigmata and also his biographer:

“His hands and feet seemed pierced in the midst by nails. These marks were round on the inner side of the hands and elongated on the outer side, and certain small pieces of flesh were seen like the ends of nails bent and driven back, projecting from the rest of the flesh.”64

Another contemporary of St. Francis’s, St Bonaventura, also witnessed the saint’s stigmata and said that the nails were so clearly defined one could slip a finger under them and into the wounds.


Although St. Francis’s nails appeared to be composed of blackened and hardened flesh, they possessed another nail-like quality. According to Thomas of Celano, if a nail were pressed on one side, it instantly projected on the other side, just as it would if it were a real nail being slid back and forth through the middle of the hand!

Therese Neumann, the well-known Bavarian stigmatist who died in 1962, also had such nail-like protuberances. Like St. Francis’s they were apparently formed of hardened skin. They were thoroughly examined by several doctors and found to be structures that passed completely through her hands and feet. Unlike St. Francis’s wounds, which were open continuously, Neumann’s opened only periodically, and when they stopped bleeding, a soft, membrane-like tissue quickly grew over them.

Other stigmatists have displayed similarly profound alterations in their bodies. Padre Pio, the famous Italian stigmatist who died in 1968, had stigmata wounds that passed completely through his hands. A wound in his side was so deep that doctors who examined it were afraid to measure it for fear of damaging his internal organs. Venerable Giovanna Maria Solimani, an eighteenth-century Italian stigmatist, had wounds in her hands deep enough to stick a key into. As with all stigmatists’ wounds, hers never became decayed, infected, or even inflamed.


And another eighteenth-century stigmatist, St. Veronica Giuliani, an abbess at a convent in Citta di Castello in Umbria, Italy, had a large wound in her side that would open and close on command.



Images Projected Outside the Brain

The holographic model has aroused the interest of researchers in the Soviet Union, and two Soviet psychologists, Dr. Alexander P. Dubrov and Dr. Veniamin N. Pushkin, have written extensively on the idea.


They believe that the frequency processing capabilities of the brain do not in and of themselves prove the holographic nature of the images and thoughts in the human mind. They have, however, suggested what might constitute such proof.


Dubrov and Pushkin believe that if an example could be found where the brain projected an image outside of itself, the holographic nature of the mind would be convincingly demonstrated.


Or to use their own words,

“Records of ejection of psychophysical structures outside the brain would provide direct evidence of brain holograms.”65

In fact, St. Veronica Giuliani seems to supply such evidence.


During the last years of her life she became convinced that the images of the Passion - a crown of thorns, three nails, a cross, and a sword - had become emblazoned on her heart. She drew pictures of these and even noted where they were located. After she died an autopsy revealed that the symbols were indeed impressed on her heart exactly as she had depicted them. The two doctors who performed the autopsy signed sworn statements attesting to their finding.66

Other stigmatists have had similar experiences. St. Teresa of Avila had a vision of an angel piercing her heart with a sword, and after she died a deep fissure was found in her heart. Her heart, with the miraculous sword wound still clearly visible, is now on display as a relic in Alba de Tormes, Spain.67 A nineteenth-century French stigmatist named Marie-Julie Jahenny kept seeing the image of a flower in her mind, and eventually a picture of the flower appeared on her breast. It remained there twenty years.68


Nor are such abilities limited to stigmatists. In 1913 a twelve-year-old girl from the village of Bussus-Bus-Suel, near Abbeville, France, made headlines when it was discovered that she could consciously command images, such as pictures of dogs and horses, to appear on her arms, legs, and shoulders. She could also produce words, and when someone asked her a question the answer would instantly appear on her skin.69

Surely such demonstrations are examples of the ejection of psychophysical structures outside the brain. In fact, in a way stigmata themselves, especially those in which the flesh has formed into nail-like protrusions, are examples of the brain projecting images outside itself and impressing them in the soft clay of the body holographic.


Dr. Michael Grosso, a philosopher at Jersey City State College who has written extensively on the subject of miracles, has also arrived at this conclusion.


Grosso, who traveled to Italy to study Padre Pio’s stigmata firsthand, states,

“One of the categories in my attempt to analyze Padre Pio is to say that he had an ability to symbolically transform physical reality. In other words, the level of consciousness he was operating at enabled him to transform physical reality in the light of certain symbolic ideas. For example, he identified with the wounds of the crucifixion and his body became permeable to those psychic symbols, gradually assuming their form.”70

So it appears that through the use of images, the brain can tell the body what to do, including telling it to make more images. Images making images. Two mirrors reflecting each other infinitely.


Such is the nature of the mind/body relationship in a holographic universe.


Laws Both Known and Unknown
At the beginning of this chapter, I said that instead of examining the various mechanisms the mind uses to control the body, the chapter would be devoted primarily to exploring the range of this control. In doing so I did not mean to deny or diminish the importance of such mechanisms.


They are crucial to our understanding of the mind/body relationship, and new discoveries in this area seem to appear every day.

For example, at a recent conference on psychoneuroimmunology - a new science that studies the way the mind (psycho), the nervous system (neuro), and the immune system (immunology) interact - Candace Pert, chief of brain biochemistry at the National Institute of Mental Health, announced that immune cells have neuropeptide receptors. Neuropeptides are molecules the brain uses to communicate, the brain’s telegrams, if you will. There was a time when it was believed that neuropeptides could only be found in the brain.


But the existence of receptors (telegram receivers) on the cells in our immune system implies that the immune system is not separate from but is an extension of the brain. Neuropeptides have also been found in various other parts of the body, leading Pert to admit that she can no longer tell where the brain leaves off and the body begins.71

I have excluded such particulars, not only because 1 felt examining the extent to which the mind can shape and control the body was more relevant to the discussion at hand, but also because the biological processes responsible for mind/body interactions are too vast a subject for this book. At the beginning of the section on miracles I said there was no clear-cut reason to believe Michelli’s bone regeneration could not be explained by our current understanding of physics.


This is less true of stigmata. It also appears to be very much not true of various paranormal phenomena reported by credible individuals throughout history, and in recent times by various biologists, physicists, and other researchers.

In this chapter we have looked at astounding things the mind can do that, although not fully understood, do not seem to violate any of the known laws of physics. In the next chapter we will look at some of the things the mind can do that cannot be explained by our current scientific understandings. As we will see, the holographic idea may shed light in these areas as well. Venturing into these territories will occasionally involve treading on what might at first seem to be shaky ground and examining phenomena even more dizzying and incredible than Mohotty’s rapidly healing wounds and the images on St. Veronica Giuliani’s heart.


But again we will find that, despite their daunting nature, science is also beginning to make inroads into these territories.



Acupuncture Microsystems and the Little Man in the Ear
Before closing, one last piece of evidence of the body’s holographic nature deserves to be mentioned. The ancient Chinese art of acupuncture is based on the idea that every organ and bone in the body is connected to specific points on the body’s surface.


By activating these acupuncture points, with either needles or some other form of stimulation, it is believed that diseases and imbalances affecting the parts of the body connected to the points can be alleviated and even cured. There are over a thousand acupuncture points organized in imaginary lines called meridians on the body’s surface.


Although still controversial, acupuncture is gaining acceptance in the medical community and has even been used successfully to treat chronic back pain in racehorses.

In 1957 a French physician and acupuncturist named Paul Nogier published a book called Treatise of Auriculotkerapy, in which he announced his discovery that in addition to the major acupuncture system, there are two smaller acupuncture systems on both ears. He dubbed these acupuncture microsystems and noted that when one played a kind of connect-the-dots game with them, they formed an anatomical map of a miniature human inverted like a fetus (see fig. 13).


Unbeknownst to Nogier, the Chinese had discovered the “little man in the ear” nearly 4,000 years earlier, but a map of the Chinese ear system wasn’t published until after Nogier had already laid claim to the idea.

The little man in the ear is not just a charming aside in the history of acupuncture. Dr. Terry Oleson, a psycho biologist at the Pain Management Clinic at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine, has discovered that the ear microsystem can be used to diagnose accurately what’s going on in the body.


For instance, Oleson has discovered that increased electrical activity in one of the acupuncture points in the ear generally indicates a pathological condition (either past or present) in the corresponding area of the body. In one study, forty patients were examined to determine areas of their body where they experienced chronic pain.


Following the examination, each patient was draped in a sheet to conceal any visible problems.




The Little Man in the Ear.

Acupuncturists have found that the acupuncture points in the ear form the outline of a miniature human being.

Dr. Terry Oleson, a psychobiologist at UCLA’s School of Medicine,

believes it is because the body is a hologram and each of its portions contains an image of the whole.

[Copyright Dr. Terry Oleson, UCLA School of Medicine. Used by permission]


Then an acupuncturist with no knowledge of the results examined only their ears.


When the results were tallied it was discovered that the ear examinations were in agreement with the established medical diagnoses 75.2 percent of the time.72

Ear examinations can also reveal problems with the bones and internal organs. Once when Oleson was out boating with an acquaintance he noticed an abnormally flaky patch of skin in one of the man’s ears. From his research Oleson knew the spot corresponded to the heart, and he suggested to the man that he might want to get his heart checked. The man went to his doctor the next day and discovered he had a cardiac problem which required immediate open-heart surgery.73

Oleson also uses electrical stimulation of the acupuncture points in the ear to treat chronic pain, weight problems, hearing loss, and virtually all kinds of addiction. In one study of 14 narcotic-addicted individuals, Oleson and his colleagues used ear acupuncture to eliminate the drug requirements of 12 of them in an average of 5 days and with only minimal withdrawal symptoms74 Indeed, ear acupuncture has proved so successful in bringing about rapid narcotic detoxification that clinics in both Los Angeles and New York are now using the technique to treat street addicts.

Why would the acupuncture points in the ear be aligned in the shape of a miniature human?


Oleson believes it is because of the holographic nature of the mind and body. Just as every portion of a hologram contains the image of the whole, every portion of the body may also contain the image of the whole.

“The ear holograph is, logically, connected to the brain holograph which itself is connected to the whole body,” he states. “The way we use the ear to affect the rest of the body is by working through the brain holograph.”75

Oleson believes there are probably acupuncture microsystems in other parts of the body as well.


Dr. Ralph Alan Dale, the director of the Acupuncture Education Center in North Miami Beach, Florida, agrees. After spending the last two decades tracking down clinical and research data from China, Japan, and Germany, he has accumulated evidence of eighteen different microacupuncture holograms in the body, including ones in the hands, feet, arms, neck, tongue, and even the gums.


Like Oleson, Dale feels these microsystems are “holographic reiterations of the gross anatomy,” and believes there are still other such systems waiting to be discovered. In a notion reminiscent of Bohm’s assertion that every electron in some way contains the cosmos, Dale hypothesizes that every finger, and even every cell, may contain its own acupuncture microsystem.76

Richard Leviton, a contributing editor at East West magazine, who has written about the holographic implications of acupuncture microsystems, thinks that alternative medical techniques - such as reflexology, a type of massage therapy that involves accessing all points of the body through stimulation of the feet, and iridology, a diagnostic technique that involves examining the iris of the eye in order to determine the condition of the body - may also be indications of the body’s holographic nature.


Leviton concedes that neither field has been experimentally vindicated (studies of iridology, in particular, have produced extremely conflicting results) but feels the holographic idea offers a way of understanding them if their legitimacy is established.

Leviton thinks there may even be something to palmistry. By this he does not mean the type of hand reading practiced by fortune-tellers who sit in glass storefronts and beckon people in, but the 4,500-year-old Indian version of the science.


He bases this suggestion on his own profound encounter with an Indian hand reader living in Montreal who possessed a doctorate in the subject from Agra University, India.

“The holographic paradigm provides palmistry’s more esoteric and controversial claims a context for validation,” says Leviton.77

It is difficult to assess the type of palmistry practiced by Leviton’s Indian hand reader in the absence of double-blind studies, but science is beginning to accept that at least some information about our body is contained in the lines and whorls of our hand.


Herman Weinreb, a neurologist at New York University, has discovered that a fingerprint pattern called ulnar loop occurs more frequently in Alzheimer’s patients than in non-sufferers (see fig. 14).




Neurologists have found that Alzheimer’s patients have a more than average chance

of having a distinctive fingerprint pattern known as an ulnar loop.

At least ten other common genetic disabilities are also associated with various patterns in the hand.

Such findings may provide evidence of the holographic model’s assertion

that every portion of the body contains information about the whole.

[Redrawn by the author from original art in Medicine magazine]


In a study of 50 Alzheimer’s patients and 50 normal individuals, 72 percent of the Alzheimer’s group had the pattern on at least 8 of their fingertips, compared to only 26 percent in the control group. Of those with ulnar loops on all 10 fingertips, 14 were Alzheimer’s sufferers, but only 4 members of the control group had the pattern.78

It is now known that 10 common genetic disabilities, including Down’s syndrome, are also associated with various patterns in the hand.


Doctors in West Germany are now using this information to analyze parents’ hand prints and help determine whether expectant mothers should undergo amniocentesis, a potentially dangerous genetic screening procedure in which a needle is inserted into the womb to draw off amniotic fluid for laboratory testing.

Researchers at West Germany’s Institute of Dermatoglyphks in Hamburg have even developed a computer system that uses an opto-electric scanner to take a digitized “photo” of a patient’s hand. It then compares the hand to the 10,000 other prints in its memory, scans it for the nearly 50 distinctive patterns now known to be associated with various hereditary disabilities, and quickly calculates the patient’s risk factors.78


So perhaps we should not be so quick to dismiss palmistry out of hand.


The lines and whorls in our palms may contain more about our whole self than we realize.



Harnessing the Powers of the Holographic Brain
Throughout this chapter two broad messages come through loud and clear.


According to the holographic model, the mind/body ultimately cannot distinguish the difference between the neural holograms the brain uses to experience reality and the ones it conjures up while imagining reality.


Both have a dramatic effect on the human organism, an effect so powerful! that it can modulate the immune system, duplicate and/or negate the effects of potent drugs, heal wounds with amazing rapidity, melt tumors, override our genetic programming, and reshape our living flesh in ways that almost defy belief.


This then is the first message:

that each of us possesses the ability, at least at some level, to influence our health and control our physical form in ways that are nothing short of dazzling. We are all potential wonderworkers, dormant yogis, and it is clear from the evidence presented in the preceding pages that it would behoove us both as individuals and as a species to devote a good deal more effort into exploring and harnessing these talents.

The second message is that elements that go into the making of these neural holograms are many and subtle. They include the images upon which we meditate, our hopes and fears, the attitudes of our doctors, our unconscious prejudices, our individual and cultural beliefs, and our faith in things both spiritual and technological.


More than just facts, these are important clues, signposts that point toward those things that we must become aware of and acquire mastery over if we are to learn how to unleash and manipulate these talents.


There are, no doubt, other factors involved, other influences that shape and circumscribe these abilities, for one thing should now be obvious.


In a holographic universe, a universe in which a slight change in attitude can mean the difference between life and death, in which things are so subtly interconnected that a dream can call forth the inexplicable appearance of a scarab beetle, and the factors responsible for an illness can also evoke a certain pattern in the lines and whorls of the hand, we have reason to suspect that each effect has multitudinous causes.


Each linkage is the starting point of a dozen more, for in the words of Walt Whitman,

“A vast similitude interlocks all.”

Back to Contents