Can the Presence of Family and Friends Help You Heal?


"While we have advanced the science of medicine dramatically over the past decades, we have all too often lost sight of the art of healing; this is especially true when we have nothing miraculous to provide a person with a chronic or incurable disease or like Gabby who must do their healing on their own.

"We are increasingly teaching our students the art of what is called Narrative Medicine, sharing of ourselves with patients. Touch is part of that, and is increasingly being shown to be of objective value. "But all you really need to be assured that touch is part of healing is to look back at a time when you were suffering or grieving and were touched by a person who cared about you."

• Bryon Petersen, Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, University of Florida: "I have seen patients cured using placebos and seen the power of prayer cure patients. Long care facilities use pets to help patients stay somewhat active; the mind is a black hole we know very little about. Are these acts of 'miracles'? Who knows, really who cares? All that matters is the patient is feeling better or cured."

• Christopher A. Ohl, Associate Professor of Medicine, Wake Forest University: "Another experience that I have had repeatedly (including with my own mother) is that a loved one who is expectant and dying will die very soon (minutes to a few hours) after a visit from an out-of-town loved one or relative; as if waiting to say good-bye."

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