The late Dr. David McClelland of Harvard University was an expert on inner motivation and healing, researched the impact of Mother Teresa on a group of students who watched a film about her. Some of the students appreciated and affirmed her ministry while others were "turned off by her religiosity." The way Dr. McClelland judged the healing impact of Mother Teresa was to do a pre- and post-test analysis of the immunoglobin A secreted in each student's saliva. “We decided to work with movies of healers, to see if a film could transmit the feeling of caring and loving and then see if that had positive effects on the immune system and it did." Listen to the dialogue between the interviewer and Dr. McClelland.
Dr. McClelland: If you watch this documentary on Mother Teresa you see that in addition to performing an incredible service, she is also a wonderful person.
Interviewer: It really comes through, this love and caring that she has. I'm tempted to call it divine love and caring.
Dr McClelland: Exactly. Not everyone reacts to it consciously as you and I do, but the interesting thing is that their bodies react anyway. The curious thing is that their opinions of the movie in no way related to whether their immune functions improved. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is the body's first defense against cold viruses. We found that salivary IgA increased even in people who disliked Mother Teresa...[S]he was contacting these consciously disapproving people in a part of their brains that they were unaware of and that was still responding to the strength of her tender loving care...[B]elief in the healer is [not] necessary to get healed. At the conscious level a person may not believe at all, but at the unconscious level, something in the person may still respond to the healer.
Interviewer: What was it that correlates to the release of IgA?
Dr. McClelland: The students who responded to Mother Teresa by releasing IgA in their saliva have motives of "doing something positive to help someone, or to establish a love relationship. But the curious part of it is that the person is not invested in the outcome of the thing. There are no statements about anxiety of tension if it fails."
Interviewer: The unconditional love.
Dr. McClelland: That's right, unconditional is exactly the same sense as Mother Teresa's activity is unconditional. She's asked in the film "How can you expend all this energy on these dying babies when you know that they are going to die anyway?" And she says that it is irrelevant, that whether they live or die isn't important to the act of love. It's a variation on the old instrumental argument if you are in love with somebody because of what it gets you somehow it isn't love."
Traditional healing and religion [always] stress non-involved striving. I mean, striving without being concerned about the outcome. We have a computer label. We call it "div luv" for divine love, but obviously we can't use that terminology for science. I wish that somebody would give me a nice name for it.
This report gives us a real insight into the power of love to heal. Mother Teresa was able to touch people deeply via a film. Second, her love and grace caused a positive physiological response even in people who consciously disliked her. This is a stunningly profound way to show that God's love in us can impact non-believers. This must be at least part of what the Scripture means when it says "Jesus went about doing good."
Dr. McClelland found that love in both the seeker and the caregiver was important. This is not to say that God cannot use His supernatural power to heal someone's broken body or emotion despite their lack of love. This research may help us better understand those who relapse.
Could it be that they could not appropriate God’s healing because of a lack of love? Jesus says that to be forgiven we must forgive. Is this research pointing to the reasons why? Does this have an implication for a new definition of faith? How do we help people develop more love? If we begin to love and serve others unselfishly will our health improve?
Learn to love and you learn to heal.
Love comes from the Holy Spirit
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