January 3, 2013

How many times have you heard, “You are what you think,” or the Biblical version, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he?” I have a friend who says if that were true, he’d be Miss America.

While you are debating the truth of the statement, consider the research done by the psychologists. They say that what you think may be a matter of life or death. They claim that medical literature is full of cases in which a doctor’s negative words acted almost like a hex and actually created an outcome that paralleled what the patient thought the diagnosis meant.

One of them claims that one woman died within hours because the diagnosing cardiologist (speaking to a group of medical students in her presence) said she had TS. Apparently the students knew he meant Tricuspid Stenosis but the patient thought the letters meant Terminal Situation. Although she had been stable for several months, the patient went into heart failure within a few minutes and died within hours.

There has been considerable research to try to determine how thought can influence one’s physical condition. Researchers investigating voodoo have found that when people believe they have been cursed, feelings of dread and doom can trigger activity in the parasympathetic nervous system that leads to sharp reduction in blood pressure and a general shutting down of the cardiovascular system.

Thinking about all this, it is wise to use language that is understandable to the listener. It is also wise when you are talking about possible outcomes, if there’s a possibility of a positive outcome as well as a negative one, to accentuate the positive. Otherwise your “possibility” prediction might come true and the only detectible reason would be that you predicted it.