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Magical Thinking and Verbal First Aid

Samuel Hahnemann, the great 18th century homeopath once described health as “admirable, harmonious and vital.” His concept of good health included both feelings and functions, both spirit and body.

The Art of Healing

The Art of Healing

Healing, then, is more than a technique. It is an art that utilizes every resource a person brings to bear—will, patience, strength, attitude as well as imagination.

Imagining Healing


In World War II, when medics and nurses on the battlefield were left without morphine or other painkillers, they often resorted to a more subtle form of pain relief for soldiers who were suffering: suggestion. They gave them saline injections but told them with great authority that what they were receiving was the most potent form of morphine.

What happened was what they prayed for: relief. There were no drugs administered and no “medical” reasons for the change in the soldiers’ perceptions. None, that is, but the suggestion that was given to them.

Placebo effects are so potent that they are regularly included and ruled out in pharmaceutical trials. According to John Cloud (“How a Sugar Pill Can Heal (or Hurt) You,” Time, November 2, 2009), “Scientists are coming to understand the placebo response as a cascade of neural reactions that not only provide psychological relief but also play a physiological role in block stress hormones that damage the body.”

Imagining relief can be as helpful as its drug-store counterpart—without all the “side-effects.”

This ability to receive healing suggestion and translate it into a healing response at the most basic physiological level is innate to all human beings. Naturally, in some it is greater than others.

But in children, it is the greatest of all.

Children’s Magical Lives

Children are born open. To them everything is new and everything truly is possible until either experience or tutelage makes them see otherwise. Children imagine monsters, wide-eyed fairies, flying pigs and sled-pulling, night-riding reindeer; they see connections and meaning where well-conditioned and socialized adults only see concrete effects and numbers.

This is especially true of pre-school children and it is called “magical thinking” by psychologists. In a very young child’s view, rain falls from the sky because the sky is sad. To that small child, it is entirely plausible. It is just as plausible that the sky is crying because of something he said or did. While it is considered a phase of development out of which they are expected to grow, it points to a very important truth: children are not little adults. They have a way of viewing the world that is quite different than our linear, logical, and limited way.

For this reason, Verbal First Aid and therapeutic suggestion are particularly effective with children. Logic and expectation are not yet the barriers they become for adults and it is easier to reach them with healing suggestion when they need it most.

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