[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
June 13, 1986

Imagery in Healing: Shamanism and Modern Medicine

Author Affiliations

UCLA Medical School

JAMA. 1986;255(22):3179-3180. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370220141053

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Imagery in Healing highlights an important issue that we as "healers" have sometimes neglected. In our search to identify the causes of disease, we often reduce our focus of attention down to the tiniest molecule. By operating with proverbial blinders on, we have neglected to see how important the mental state of the patient is in relation to recovery.

In my experience as a physician, it is this intervening variable of hope and positive mental attitude that has led to a far speedier recovery in my patients. It was welcoming to see the statistical evidence throughout the book that supported the notion that we all have this healing power within us.

However, imagery and positive thinking should not be utilized alone as a replacement for medical treatments. It would be naive to focus solely on beliefs, as the shamans did (chapters 1 through 3), without considering the benefits of scientific