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Hope and Healing
Why Hope is the Best Medicine

The intimate connection between hope and attachment is demonstrated in the healing power of love. Psychologist David McClelland showed research subjects a film about Mother Theresa caring for orphans. Immediately before and after viewing the film, every subject provided a saliva sample. McClelland had the fluid analyzed for the presence of Salivary Immunoglobin-A, a protective hormone that is especially effective in warding off respiratory infections. Interestingly, he found a significant rise in SIG-A as result of viewing the film. He called it "The Mother Theresa effect".

In this chapter, we examine the role of hope in the healing process. Within both health psychology and behavioral medicine, there is a wealth of evidence regarding the motives underlying hope. There is research underscoring the health benefits of a trusting attitude and social support (attachment), the significance of perceived control and the will to live (mastery), as well as the relationship between stress and illness (survival). In essence, attending to your "hope motives" is tantamount to creating a healthy portable environment. The second half of this chapter consists of guidelines for incorporating hope-based medicine into your life.

Related issues covered in our book

  • Big and small miracles: Case studies in hope and healing
  • Healing the body: How hope impacts cardiovascular functioning, hormones, and immunity
  • A healthy portable environment: Why hope is truly the best medicine
  • Insisting on hope-based medicine

Hope Tip #15: Immunity loves company

Decades of research prove that social connections affect health and healing. Here are a few examples that we discuss in our book:

  • Among laboratory rats that are exposed to cancer cells, those who are petted and handled are less likely to develop tumors as compared to their counterparts who reside in far-away cages and never feel the presence another living creature.
  • A study at Yale University revealed that men who lacked a close confidante and had suffered a heart attack, were four times more likely to die of a second heart attack as compared to those who had at least one good friend.
  • A study by investigators from the University of California - Berkeley and Stanford University demonstrated that women with advanced breast cancer who participated in a support group lived, on average, twice as long as their counterparts who did not participate in a support group.

Research shows that both number of contacts and depth of contacts may play a role in health and healing. Try answering the following questions as a way of gauging your "health support network."

1. How many people do you trust completely, 100 percent?

2. How many people do you know who would "drop everything" to help you?

3. How many people do you know that make you feel safe and at ease in their presence?

4. How many people are strong enough to handle anything you might have to tell them?
























































































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