After watching this documentary, Judge Brett Cullum says your doctor might prescribe you a dozen smiles and two hours of relaxation.
I remember once I got gingivitis, and the first question my dentist asked was "How much stress have you been under?"
"Um…I switched jobs, broke up with someone, and moved." I replied without thinking.
"Okay, there you go. Stress has gotten in your gums, and you have worried yourself sick officially."
"Stress can do that?"
The New Medicine is a documentary first televised on PBS that explores the effects of human emotions and mental states on health and healing. For a long time doctors have underestimated the connection of mood to medicine, and now the scientific community is trying to rectify this. The documentary is interesting in that it examines something outside the medical paradigm and takes it seriously. Forever Americans have tried to separate mind and body as much as we have claimed to divide church and state. In both cases we find it's impossible for the two not to be intertwined, and hope coupled with faith may well be a panacea for physical ills. Laughter truly is the best medicine.
The documentary follows several cases where stress reduction and mood enhancement methods help out patients. They breathe deeply, hypnotize themselves, and use visualization to combat pain or infection. It sounds New Age, and a little too California for most people. Yet in each episode of the film the results are startling and quite powerful. The New Medicine makes a strong case for positive moods and relaxation to accompany treatment.
One sad note is the program is introduced by the late Dana Reeve who was married to Christopher Reeve (Superman). It's hard to see her talk about how hope and joy helped her and her husband deal with both of their illnesses—Christopher's paralysis and her battle with lung cancer. Yet you do get an idea she believes in the message behind The New Medicine, and obviously it is a fitting tribute to a brave woman who rose above all circumstances throughout her life. It's great to see her one last time offering hope in the face of illness. Officially her last performance will be as a voice in Everybody's Hero (an animated feature in post-production which her husband helped produce and direct).
First Run Features presents the special just as it aired on PBS. The New Medicine even features the sponsor announcements before it begins. The picture is in wide screen, and has a high definition broadcast appearance. Some of the footage brings the quality of the visual presentation down now and then, but on the whole it looks striking. The stereo sound mix is clear, and does fine accompanying a documentary that relies mostly on dialogue. Extras are limited to downloadable health tips, resource links, and information on a companion book that has been published.
The New Medicine offers a powerful message that on the surface seems obvious. Attitude and stress can infiltrate every corner of our lives, and so it seems no surprise it impacts our health. The revelation is just how much the mind effects the body, and how it can work as a healing power. It's a nice documentary, and well worth checking out. Your health may depend on it. Now smile damn it, or you'll get gingivitis.
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