Hope Therapy

I was reading on Dr. Sanford Cohen, chairman of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. He wrote a piece of article claiming that a witch doctor has the power to kill by means of a hex. After the witch doctor sticks a pin in a wax image, the victim mysteriously dies.

Dr. Cohen explains that death occurs because the victim of witchcraft believes in the utter hopelessness of his or her situation. He or she feels so trapped. As a result, the victim mistakenly thinks and feels that death is the only way out.

As strange-sounding as it may seem, I see a similarity between a victim who dies from witchcraft and the victim of psychological/emotional trauma or some terminal disease. A severely emotionally damaged person or a patient dying from cancer can suffer from the same sense of hopelessness. So terrible is the shock, the pain, or the "spell" that the patient or trauma victim just gives up.

According to brain specialists, a profound feeling of hopelessness causes changes in our norepinephrine levels. Norepinephrine is a brain chemical that supports and facilitates the transmission of sympathetic nerve impulses. Hopelessness then can make us so sick in the brain that it leads even unto death.

A major intent of psychotherapy and counseling is to give hope - a powerful antidote to illness.