The Healing Power of Love
Through his clinical trials and research at the University of California and at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute that he founded, renowned cardiologist Dr. Dean Ornish maintains that emotional and spiritual heart dis-ease can be as damaging to our health as physical heart disease.
Dr Ornish has scientifically substantiated that the most powerful intervention is the profound healing power of love, and intimacy and the emotional and spiritual transformation that often result from these to heal the body and the soul. The results of his research have led to the publication of his latest book, Love and Survival: 8 pathways to Intimacy and Health. This book is based on a simple but powerful idea: Our survival depends on the healing power of love, intimacy, and relationships. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. As individuals. As communities. As a country. As a culture. Perhaps even as a species.
In his book Dr Ornish describes the increasing scientific evidence from his own research and from the studies of others that cause him to believe that love and intimacy are among the most powerful factors in health and illness, even though these ideas are largely ignored by the medical profession. He reviews the extensive scientific literature that supports these ideas, and describes the limitations of science to document and understand the full range of these implications — not only in our health and illness, but also in what often brings the most joy, value, and meaning to our lives.
Dr Ornish says, “Medicine today tends to focus primarily on the physical and mechanistic: drugs and surgery, genes and germs, microbes and molecules. I am not aware of any other factor in medicine — not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery — that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness, and premature death from all causes.”
“Love and intimacy are at a root of what makes us sick and what makes us well, what causes sadness and what brings happiness, what makes us suffer and what leads us to healing. If a new drug had the same impact, virtually every doctor in the country would be recommending it for their patients. It would be malpractice not to prescribe it — yet, with few exceptions, we doctors do not learn much about the healing power of love, intimacy, and transformation in our medical training. Rather, these ideas are often ignored or even denigrated.”
“I am a scientist. I believe in the value of science as a powerful means of gaining greater understanding of the world we live in. Science can help us sort out truth from fiction, hype from reality, what works from what doesn’t work, from whom, and under what circumstances. Although I respect the ways and power of science, I also understand its limitations as well. What is most meaningful often cannot be measured. What is verifiable may not necessarily be what is most important.”
In today’s accelerated evolution of scientific understanding of meta physics and quantum theory we may still not yet have the tools to measure what is most meaningful to people, but the value of those experiences is not diminished by our inability to quantify them. We can listen, we can learn, and we can benefit greatly from those who have had these experiences. When we gather together to tell and listen to each other’s stories, the sense of community and the recognition of shared experiences can be profoundly healing.