Stopping Contagion

'LOOKING over the newspapers of the day, one naturally reflects that it is dangerous to live, so loaded with disease seems the very air. These descriptions carry fears to many minds, to be depicted in some future time upon the body.'' That statement was not made in 1996; it was actually made in 1883 by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science. You can find it in a book entitled Miscellaneous Writings (p. 7).

Today there is a term to describe illnesses induced by the media, or by suggestions of others: nocebo. According to one publication, the nocebo effect is a major player in some of today's biggest health scares, and a major factor in driving up health care costs. Just as placebos appear to improve a patient's condition, nocebos make one feel bad, acting like negative placebos. For example, if someone around you is sick, you start feeling the same way. But by definition there is no physiological basis for the effects either of placebos or nocebos.

Christian Science explains the inherently mental nature of disease and contagion. It further explains that Christ Jesus relied on actual laws in his ministry, laws that today, as then, make Christian healing the surest method of treating sickness and sin. These laws are the basis of the scientific system of spiritual healing called Christian Science.

This system demonstrates that the power of Christian healing is just as effective now as it has always been. God is good, and what He created is spiritual. Each man, woman, and child is a reflection of Him. The healing power of Christian Science is in the understanding of God, which destroys erroneous thinking of any kind.

On more than one occasion Jesus told his followers, including those with very serious diseases, not to be afraid (for example, see Mark 5:36). Today we have a wide spectrum of media programming that encourages fear of disease. It is important to recognize the power of God to heal effectively and impartially.

Recently I was thoroughly engrossed in a television program. The lead character became very ill with a strange disease, the symptoms and suffering of which the program presented in detail.

The next morning I woke up with all of the same symptoms, and felt awful. Knowing something about mental contagion, I felt that I had actually given my consent to the illness. Knowing that God was the only true power that could influence me, God's reflection, I prayed. I refused to consent to any power unlike God as one that could govern me.

It became so apparent that, unconsciously, I had accepted the graphic portrayal of that disease as a reality, even though the television show had been fictitious. I remembered a statement in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, a book written in 1875 by Mrs. Eddy. It says, ''Neither sympathy nor society should ever tempt us to cherish error in any form, and certainly we should not be error's advocate'' (pp. 153-154). In effect, I had been ''cherishing'' a form of error by accepting the possibility that disease-an evil-could have a place in the good creation of God.

Within an hour of the time I began to pray, I was feeling well.

Learning how to heal disease and to maintain health through the practice of Christian Science is not a matter of positive thinking, or visualizing a cure through mental imaging. Fears are destroyed as one understands that sickness has no spiritual reality, and as one understands the control of God over all.

A few years ago I realized that whenever I suffered from colds I was also feeling quite sorry for myself. I saw I was in effect falsely educating myself to accept that I could at times be separated from God's love. Now I am much more alert to pray to end self-pity. And colds are becoming increasingly infrequent as I more consistently recognize God's presence.

The mental nature of disease and contagion is being exposed. The presumed fixedness of various illnesses is beginning to be seen to be illusory, as cause and effect are gradually seen as mental rather than physical.

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