The New Witch Doctor : How Belief Can Kill Essay

The New Witch Doctor : How Belief Can Kill Essay

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It is common for human beings, as a race, to fall into the comforts of routine – living each day similar to days before and days to come. Unfortunately, it is often too late before one even realizes that they have fallen into this mundane way of living in which each day is completed rather than lived, as explained by David Foster Wallace in “This Is Water”. This commencement speech warned graduating students of the dangers of submitting to our “default settings” of unconscious decisions and beliefs (Wallace 234). However, this dangerous way of living is no new disability of today’s human race. Socrates warned the people of his time: “A life unaware is a life not worth living” and who is to say he wasn’t completely right? A topic of long debate also includes the kind of influence that consciously-controlled thoughts can have on the physical body. A year after Wallace’s speech, neurobiologist Helen Pilcher, published “The New Witch Doctor: How Belief Can Kill”, which explains the influence of the mind and individual beliefs on the quality of one’s life. Together, both authors illustrate how detrimental a life lived unaware of one’s own thoughts and beliefs can be on the body and spirit. And though it is easy to live by unconscious routine, true life fulfillment is found from a life where each day is lived both consciously and positively.
Routines can develop from as early on as five years of age, a time when we are all newly welcomed into the liberal arts education system - a system that runs on the goal of “teaching you how to think” if one so pleases to fall into such uniformity while growing up (Wallace 234). On the contrary, if one were to choose to make their own conscious decisions in the process rather than falling into t...


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...” (Wallace 234-8). Pilcher emphasizes how one can be “persuaded to believe that they are going to die and actually have it happen” so why not do the contrary and persuade yourself to be the strongest, bravest version of yourself possible and conquer all of life’s obstacles (Pilcher 484)?
Both authors, Wallace and Pilcher, work to inform their readers of the power of the mind over life and the body. Wallace focuses on how one’s life is impacted by what and how he or she chooses to see in the world around them. Pilcher concentrates on the direct influence that the mind tends to have over the body. Together, the two points can be concluded to declare that while natural habit may work to push upon us certain beliefs and standards, every human being has the power to control what they want to believe and how they want those beliefs to affect their life and their bodies.

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