The Healthcare Field of Fear

a review of Healing without Fear by Laurel Reinhardt
— written by Irene Alleger; published in The Townsend Letter

After turning to alternative medicine for more effective help for her asthma, the author relates how, when face with a lump in her breast, she felt a terrible fear rising up that sent her running back to an allopathic doctor. After waiting ten days for the results of her mammogram, by the time she saw the surgeon again, the fear had taken over and she was not able to take the time to make a decision that was not fear-based. Fortunately, it was a holiday and she couldn’t be scheduled for biopsy for some time. Because of the delay, she was able to think more clearly and finally decided to try alternatives (herbs and dietary recommendations) first. By the time she was the surgeon again, the lump was gone.

Her doctor was as restricted by fear as she was — fear of being sued, fear of the medical board, etc. Even if we begin without fear, the author says, “the field in a doctor’s office or hospital is often palpable, and can induce that fear in us.”  Our society has become extremely fearful about health concerns, some of the fear being fed by the pharmaceutical ads on TV, medical news, and government recommendations for screening, test, etc. The author says, “There is a collusion of silence, fear, and disempowerment of ourselves and each other that creates a morphic field of fear surrounding the Western health care system in general, and some illnesses, such as cancer and AIDS, in particular.”

The morphic field of fear which surrounds the practice of Western medicine is created by the following:

  • the personal fears we each have about pain, illness, disability, life, and death
  • the fears of doctors that we assimilate, sometimes called “white coat fever”
  • doctors’ fears of making mistakes, failing their patients, or being sued
  • fear-based methods of teaching and practicing medicine
  • financial fears of patients, doctors, insurance companies, and the government
  • fear-based sales tactics of insurance companies and advertisers
  • fears engendered by media reports on health care topics
  • fears of loss of power and control
  • fears of the unknown

We are so bombarded with messages and images of fear on a daily basis that we are often not even aware of it. The author of Healing without Fear, Laurel Ann Reinhardt, is an experienced psychologist in practice for more than 20 years. In this little book she brings this important, but hardly acknowledged factor powering our health care system, to light. She makes us aware of all the fear in our contemporary life and, especially in the arena of health care. I think most alternative practitioners would agree that an emotion such as fear is a real impediment to healing.

The authors have suggestions for overcoming this field of fear, and has included a wide variety of exercises that can help one become aware of the feeling of fear, and using effective tools such as journaling and breath work, begin to transform the fear. She writes, “Where fear is constrictive, love is expansive; where fear undoes, love creates; where fear inhibits, love opens up. By loving your body, the people around you, your environment, your job, your life, and yourself — your whole self, including your dreams and intuitions and even your illnesses and fears — you can create a field of joy and health that fear can no longer undo.”

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