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Spirit can overcome the material, or in more common language, thinking can overcome illness. For some this is as obvious as stating that “I am a better person when I am happy”. For those that are open minded but need a little bit more evidence to be convinced, then the work of Dr Simonton might be enlightening indeed even truly liberating…..because it is further evidence that positive thinking is backed up by hard science.
A sixty-one-yearold 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.’
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