In what other areas does it apply?

Category: Relationships

An area where it can be damaging is that of religion. A fervent protestant may not see any good in the faith of a catholic. Likewise a bigoted catholic may see little to praise in the protestant faith, while his own will appear beyond reproach. A rabid communist will find little good in capitalism and vice versa. ‘Set’ causes distortions in thinking and in perspectives and is something very difficult to deal with because it, itself, camouflages such distortions and people sincerely believe they are right. ‘Set’ also plays a significant part in health. Cancer in particular is one illness where set can have important consequences. There is a general set throughout western society that cancer is a killer, and once it is diagnose in an individual the negative set becomes a personal one, particularly if it is reinforced by a prediction that the patient concerned has only six months, or whatever, to live. A prediction of death can sometimes be enough to bring death about. In the Murngin tribe of Northern Australia the headman can tell a tribesman that he will die in two days, and almost invariably the person ails and dies before the forty-eight hours are up. Scientists investigating such cases have found no evidence of physical illness in the corpses. If, however, such tribesman is told that he will not die after all, he generally recovers without further ado. Similar principles have been applied in one of the more promising approaches to the treatment of cancer. Carl and Stephanie Simonton, two cancer researchers, give their patients a positive setting for survival, showing them many cases of spontaneous remission, educating them on the body’s own self-healing potential and getting them to actively visualize the body becoming well again. As a result 30% of the patients have shown a complete recovery and another 45% have become well on the way to recovery. Although this work is only in the preliminary stages the success rates are very much higher than those attained with conventional cancer treatment. Another field of medicine in which ‘set’ has been used to great advantage is childbirth. Dr Grantly Dick-Read, a strong advocate of natural childbirth, believes that an important factor in easy childbirth is the mother’s positive image of birth, for this prevents the ‘fear-tension-pain’ syndrome. In western society young women are continually exposed to negative mental setting about the suffering of childbirth and the resulting fear leads to resistant actions in the womb, muscular tension, disturbed blood flow to the uterus, buildup of waste products in the tissues, and eventually to pain. Here the fear of pain actually produces pain. In many primitive societies where there is no cultural tradition of trauma in childbirth women seem to give birth with little sign of distress; for many it can even be a blissful transcendental experience.


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