For some churchless inspiration, check out Mark Morford's "Placebo effect beats out God, Prozac."
He discusses the finding that anti-depressants are pretty much useless, except for cases of extreme depression. A sugar pill works as well as Prozac, if the patient believes he or she is getting the real deal.
The placebo effect -- hereby defined as the sheer force of will and belief, of the mind's (and heart's) ability to heal and nurture itself sans external assistance -- applies to all sorts of constructs in our tortured modern world.
Organized religion? Hell yes. Is your life flawed and painful? Are you guilt-ridden and terrified of the world's swarm of demons and daggers? Of course you are, sinner. Here, have a giant, unknowable deity. Give to it all your faith, hope, belief, money, angst, sexual shame. Believe in it wholly and without doubt, to the point where you lose a sense of yourself and your true divine source, forever and ever, amen.
There now. Feel better? Are miracles starting to happen in your life? Do you feel uplifted and joyful? Are you healed? It's the power of Jesus! It's God in your life! It's because you have blind faith! No no no, it's not you, silly. Even though, in fact, it totally is. Shhh.
Of course, what we call the power of faith is just the power of the mind, soul, the Self, rather harshly rerouted through some external conduit that relieves us from having to figure s--t out for ourselves. After all, it's just much easier to give it all over to the god, the pill, the product, than it is to delve deep into one's own dark and inscrutable psyche. Same as it ever was.
Some drugs, though, are effective for bringing about lasting positive results. Unfortunately, they're illegal.
This research reveals, once again for the millionth time, that various psychedelics like MDMA, LSD and psilocybin really do, in fact, have a rather stunningly helpful -- and often permanent -- effect on the health and well-being of numerous patients, almost universally and without fail.
(Did you hear that? That's the sound of a million mystics and healers, teachers and gurus throughout history, sighing and rolling their eyes).
Of these drugs' power to dance and frolic with the brain's synapses, there is absolutely no doubt. This is no placebo effect. This is no sheer force of will. Psilocybin, for one, is an E-ticket to a shifting dimension, a dance on the blurrier edges of definitive reality. Ecstasy is a widening out, a warming up, an opening into the cold, cold heart of the human species.
Patients who get to dabble with these fine plants and chemicals are reporting astonishingly positive, almost impossibly curative reactions. Lives are forever altered. Ideas of the soul, heart, human connection forever reset and restored. Possibilities expand, PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] contracts, hearts open, fear and inhibition dissolve. Love expands. And man, the PTB [powers that be] hate that, too.