Fascinating findings now coming out of research centers show that we can actually affect our immune system when we have a concrete picture of how it works. This trail-blazing new science is called psychoneuroimmunology: the study of how attitudes affect immune health. Dr. Carl Simonton and his wife Stephanie are the best known pioneers in this vanguard science. They find that the very act of specifically, concretely picturing what's happening in the immune system can sometimes actually make it perform better. The Simon-tons augment conventional cancer treatment with a technique called "guided imagery." At the Simonton clinic in Ft. Worth, patients are taught how to imagine very concrete images of their immune system fighting cancer, and encouraged to visualize that action as graphically as possible. Some patients envision knights on white horses, others see tanks and fighter planes—the details don't matter, so long as they have a clear picture.
In a significant number of cases, the results have been dramatic. Tumors shrink, symptoms disappear, and the patients' mental states improve dramatically. Nobody knows exactly how these mental images boost the immune system, but several researchers have consistently reported that the technique can improve both physical and psychological health.