After Dr. Jerome Groopman was healed from a 19-year-struggle with extraordinary back pain (which he discusses in his book, The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness), he set out on a journey "to discover whether the energizing feeling of hope can in fact contribute to recovery. I found that there is an authentic biology of hope. But how far does it reach? And what are its limits?
"Researchers are learning that a change in mind-set has the power to alter neurochemistry. Belief and expectation--the key elements of hope--can block pain by releasing the brain's endorphins and enkephalins, mimicking the effects of morphine. In some cases, hope can also have important effects on fundamental physiological processes like respiration, circulation, and motor function.
"During the course of an illness, then, hope can be imagined as a domino effect, a chain reaction in which each link makes improvement more likely. It changes us profoundly in spirit and in body. Every day I look for hope, for my patients, for my loved ones, and for myself..."