Albert Amao, PH.D.
Foreword by Mitch Horowitz
Wheaton: Quest Books, 2014. xi + 323 pp., paper, $19.95.
There is much more to healing than surgery or the prescribing of specific medications for certain disorders. So asserts Albert Amao, a clinical hypnotherapist and holistic counselor with a Ph.D. in sociology. In fact he boldly declares that all healing is self-induced:
“Conventional medicine can be said to heal [only] because it removes obstacles so that the body can begin its recuperative capacity.”
In Healing without Medicine, Amao offers a sweeping history of mind healing from the late 1700s to the present. The story begins with Franz Anton Mesmer, father of mesmerism, who posited the existence of an invisible universal energy that permeates all living beings.
While Mesmer was German, and many of the more well-known psychotherapeutic pioneers were Viennese, Amao finds particular significance in the fact that many other mind healing innovators have hailed from the United States, especially New England. Included among the earliest American mind healers is Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, an autodidact whose studies led him to this countercultural hypothesis: “Disease being in its roots a wrong belief, change that belief and we cure the disease.” Quimby supposedly described the principle of a subconscious or Universal Mind long before William James or Sigmund Freud.
Other American historical figures whose work Amao discusses include Mary Baker Eddy, a beneficiary of Quimby’s methods who later founded the Christian Science church; Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, founders of the Unity movement; Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science; and other prominent figures in the New Thought movement.
Into his argument, Amao manages to insert some interesting twists on conventional thought. Where in the past it was believed that genes and DNA determine the biology of a human being, Amao asserts that, on the contrary, thoughts and the environment have a direct influence over genes. I was particularly intrigued by his assertion that “the genius and extraordinary talents expressed by some people are the manifestations of their ability to tap into the Universal Consciousness.”
Amao’s bottom line is that a sick person must regain his or her inner power as a spiritual being in order to heal. While I am certain this is correct to an extent, I believe the contribution of physicians and surgeons should be allowed some degree of credit in the healing equation.
All throughout Healing without Medicine, I kept hoping a book so named would have provided less historical detail and more specific “how to” advice. That is, until I got to the epilogue, where the true genius of this book shines through. Here Amao explains that conventional wisdom has always portrayed our human existence as being defined by various “outer” determinants. Religious determinism tells us that a faraway God dictates our life and destiny, and human suffering is due to original sin. Economic determinism claims that the economic structure of a society determines the nature of all other aspects of life. Freud’s psychological determinism has told us that human behavior and mental health are dictated by repressed desires and sexual drives. But all these outer determinisms are based upon a flawed theory, and on numerous fronts we humans are now—finally—moving toward the more complete understanding that our true power comes from within. Amao has helped me see how our conventional medical precepts impose a genetic or biological determinism and discourage people from recognizing their power to heal themselves.
I applaud Amao’s efforts. We need more works like this designed to free people from fear-based dependence upon outer authority and direct them toward a personal empowerment based on security and trust in their own personal resources.
Gathering wisdom from divergent corners, and synthesizing seemingly independent, random theories into a coherent whole, as Amao has done, lends momentum to progressive ideas, and helps society move beyond injurious and outmoded conventional beliefs. Many factors are converging now that point to a societywide transformation toward a unitive enlightenment. The more ways people can come to acknowledge their personal power, and the degree of personal responsibility involved in the version of reality we manifest, the more likely our society will come to experience this transformation.
Margaret Placentra Johnston
The reviewer is author of Faith beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind.