#33 – Impact of Spiritual Transformation on Healing from Serious Illness

In this episode, I interview two of my long-time friends. Dr. Gail Ironson, who is both a psychiatrist and a psychologist, and her psychologist brother, Dale Ironson, Ph.D.. They recently presented at a UC Berkeley conference the results of a four-year longitudinal study of the effects of spiritual beliefs held by HIV patients. Listen to this episode to discover their dramatic findings. Gail, the principal investigator, is Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Miami, and Board Certified Psychiatrist. She specializes in Behavioral Medicine and is a past President of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. Dale, who is a co-investigator and consultant on the project, Dale is a former associate professor of psychology and has been a senior organization development consultant for several Fortune 500 high-technology companies in Silicon Valley. He is currently working on a book examining the applications and implications of consciousness and spirituality in organizations. Later on in this episode we receive an update from Mohammed in Baghdad. Finally, we close with a podsafe music selection by David Ippolito, “Tired of Being Lied to.”


One Comment

  1. Reinhard, bookworm
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 4:09 am | Permalink

    This was always a topic of great interest to me. I don’t know why because I have never been very ill physically. I have read many books about cancer and about the connection of body and mind relating to physical ailments.
    Maybe because illness is such a powerful metaphor for very difficult passages in our lifes? I don’t know…

    Anyway, one of the most impressive books I read in this field, was “Remarkable Recovery – What Extraordinary Healings Tell Us About Getting Well And Staying Well” by Caryle Hirshberg and Marc Ian Barasch. They interviewed many people who have recoverd from severe illnesses (mostly from cancer) and who where labeled as “spontaneous remissions”.
    What Hirshberg and Barasch found out is that those remissions weren’t so spontaneous after all, because most of the recovered persons had some extraordinary personality traits that most “normal” people lack.
    Interestingly there’s no fixed amount of traits that define “remarkable recoveries” but it’s more complex.
    But read on your own, there’s a plethora of cases, interviews and viewpoints in the book, and the authors are very differentiating, there’s never just a black or white kind of thinking.

    In the same vein is Barasch’ own account of his experience of being ill, a book titled “The Healing Path – A Soul Approach To Illness”, in which he reflects on the body-mind approach to illness heavily and very thougtfully. Additionally Barach is simply a great (sometimes almost poetical) writer, it’s the command of the language in combination with his vast knowledge that makes his books so readable.

    Reinhard from Austria

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