“Belief” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is defined as “a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing.” Belief is a state of mind, which involves trust. We often use the term to refer to a strong opinion, but the primary definition implies an expectation strong enough to be trusted. When you trust someone, you are willing to leave an important task or action to that person, confident it will be done. If it isn’t, you are surprised and disappointed.

Belief is built upon history. If someone continually comes through for you, that builds your trust and belief in that person. If your car is reliable, you trust it to get you to your destination, and you set important appointments with confidence that your car will get you there. You don’t spend time wondering what will happen if your car breaks down. Belief is the foundation for many of the actions you take.

When a belief is in your mind, your brain, which is the mechanism that turns your thoughts into biochemical and bioelectrical signals, alters accordingly. Your brain’s job is to bring your thoughts into physical reality. The signals it sends to your body adjust to your thoughts. For instance, if you are thinking a happy thought, signals from your brain may cause you to smile, and you may have a lighter step. If your thoughts are negative, you may mope around, walk slower, frown, and have lower energy. The hormones that your body releases change, and bioelectrical signals are sent through your nerves which not only move different muscles, but even change the way your internal organs work. Also, brainwaves, which can reach all parts of your body at the same time, change instantly.

Brainwaves are the most versatile signals your brain sends to your body, because they can have infinite complexity. Brainwaves can send signals at different frequencies, giving them a broad spectrum and a virtually infinite set of unique signals that they can send. However, they have one limitation: they cannot target a certain portion of the body because they broadcast with no limitations on where the waves go. All your cells hear the same messages. The messages may be more meaningful to certain organs and cells than others, but the brainwaves cannot be directed.

Belief can be a real pill
We’ve all heard about the “placebo effect,” where you might be given a fake drug, thinking that it is the real thing, and actually react as though you had taken the real version. How is that possible? Obviously this starts in your mind, because you believe that you’ve taken the real drug. You also believe that the drug will have a certain effect, so you are looking to see the placebo have that effect. This means that your mind, through your brain, is able to signal your body to do what the drug caused it to do.

There are various theories as to how this happens. The placebo effect has been proven real in many studies, but the exact mechanisms are still mysterious. We know that the brain responds to an imagined scene similarly to the way it reacts to an actually visualized scene. Published in The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from the University of Turin Medical School, Turin, Italy reviewed many studies to explain the mystery. They found studies that show placebo effects happening in the arenas of the immune system, pain management and sensitivity, motor control, and executive attention — the recognition of pain or other sensory input. This implies many portions of the brain working together to signal or control different aspects of the body. Responses to the fake drugs came from changes in expectations, emotions, conscious and subconscious thoughts, and involuntary organ signaling. In the case of pain reduction, the placebo effect caused activity in the portions of the brain that would also be triggered by opioid drugs. In studies of motor control, Parkinson’s disease patients showed placebo-induced expectation of motor improvement that activated dopamine in the striatum, which is a deep-brain center involved in execution of motor tasks. The researchers also reviewed studies on the placebo effect on the immune system. The patients given cyclosporin A (an immune system suppressant used primarily for organ transplant patients to prevent organ rejection) showed the same lowered interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon-? (IFN-?) mRNA expression as those given a flavored drink which tasted like the drug.

Finally the researchers also cited studies of hidden versus open administration of therapies. Generally, the hidden administration of drugs was less effective than when the patients were told what treatment was being given and its effects. Expectations were playing a key role in the effectiveness of the drugs. This implies that the placebo effect can be used in concert with actual drugs, allowing for lowered levels to be administered and still have the full intended impact.

Another study, published in Nature Mental Health, considered the link between belief and addiction. Researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine told participants that they were receiving different levels of nicotine in vaping, when they were actually receiving identical amounts. Then, using neuroimaging (fMRI) brain scans, the researchers saw activity in the areas of the brain involved with decision-making (ventromedial prefrontal cortex) and sensory interpretation (thalamus). They saw that the participants’ beliefs about nicotine levels caused dose-dependent responses only in the thalamus (also a key binding site for nicotine), which then communicated with the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Other areas of the brain did not change with beliefs, but the relevant areas coordinated their response.

These studies showed that belief affects the same portions of the brain that the drugs affect, at similar levels of impact, and with similar results. Then these coordinated portions of the brain send signals very similar to those sent due to actual drugs. When used in conjunction with the drugs, they enhance the drug effects when they change the patients’ expectations.

Belief rules
Why does this matter? In terms of conventional medicine, which is highly drug based, beliefs can enhance (or counteract if the beliefs counter the drug function) the drug effects. It also means that some drugs might be avoidable entirely with placebos. But this goes much deeper. What you believe in your mind gets processed by your brain, and your brain runs your body. Is what you believe making you healthy, or sick?

Prove it
Studies have been done to put a number to how much positive beliefs affect longevity, even though a person’s inner beliefs are hard to quantify. In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers from Yale University studied survival rates over a 22-year period for 660 participants, age 50 to 94. They found that simply having positive attitudes about aging gave an average of seven years greater lifespan over those with negative attitudes. In a dual study, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, researchers from Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio studied 1,096 obituaries across 42 major U.S. cities, and found that those with a “religious affiliation” lived an average of 6.48 years longer than those with no apparent religious beliefs in the first study and 5.64 years longer in the second study. The first study focused on a single city, Des Moines, Iowa, while the second spread out across most major cities to account for different lifestyles and regional beliefs.

There have been many studies examining the effect of specific beliefs, attitudes, and overall mental state in regard to lifespan and longevity. The results are consistent: something about belief gets translated from the realm of the mind to the physical body.

Your choice?
You might object at this point, saying that you cannot just turn on and off your beliefs. Can you choose to believe something? Well, looking at the definition of “belief”, is it better to say, “can you trust something?” You won’t if you have no reason to do so. If a doctor prescribes a drug, you may have faith in the doctor, and therefore the drug, but if you research the drug’s side effects, you may completely distrust the drug instead. You put trust in someone once you get to know that person as reliable, and you trust something that you’ve experienced or researched well and you know it has a good track record. You distrust when your expectations are not fulfilled. Many of us won’t do the research and just hope that something will work out — that’s not belief or trust.

The Ohio State study, without going into details of the “religious affiliations”, made it clear that spiritual belief can directly affect lifespan and healthspan. If you don’t believe that you have a loving, heavenly Father who created you and is caring for your real needs, you are literally missing out physically. Remember, your beliefs drive your health…

But there is a greater point: most of your thoughts are subconscious, so even if you consciously convince yourself that something is trustworthy, you still might not really believe it. Subconscious blocks are visible with brain scans, and the brainwaves that are affecting all your cells can be analyzed. These tools can show imbalances that result in negative thought patterns, and can be used with therapy to see if they improve.

For now, the placebo effect clearly demonstrates the power of belief. It can be used to get the same results, partially or in full, that drugs can give, without also causing the damaging side effects (unless your beliefs about the drug are negative and you are expecting those effects). Understanding that belief is really powerful is a first step, and could even replace drug therapy.


Dr. Nemec’s Review

Let’s go deeper with this concept of belief. Adding to the definition besides trust, let’s add rely upon, even have faith in — now we start to understand how powerful belief really is. Is belief based on thinking? Is belief based on facts? Is believe based on wanting an outcome?

What is the basis or foundation of belief?
This is in your life and your health. When your foundation was formed your subconscious mind was taking information in at an accelerated rate from the time you were born until approximately six years of age. You were learning how to live in a world that is ruled by two forces: good and bad, happy and sad, life and death. One could say you were born into a very stressful environment of choices, and the stress comes from trying to know what the right choice is each and every moment.

So as a precious child grows and develops in the first years of life, it takes in a tremendous amount of information and has to process it somehow. What does it use as a model, as a template to process the information — because this child comes into the world, not knowing anything, basically at the mercy of the environment around it. In these first six years of life, all patterns of belief are established, and those establish beliefs usually follow the child for life. This means the first six years of life are the most crucial years of everyone’s life. Why?

Because in these first years of life, all programming is established at the subconscious level, which later follows through at the conscious level. So subconscious programming rules over conscious programming because it’s the precursor, it’s the foundation of all belief and mental activity throughout one’s life.

How were you programmed?
At age 2, you are not consciously aware. Your conscious programming has not been established yet and you’re still taking in all the information from the environment subconsciously and adapting to the best response that the environment will allow. Because you don’t have conscious awareness until approximately the age of six, the subconscious programming is firmly established in these early years to set the stage for the rest of your life.

What do you believe?
At age 2, because you do not have a conscious filter and conscious awareness, your subconscious mind is taking all the information in the environment and trying to make the response that will allow you to function and survive in that environment.

What information is being input into your subconscious mind?
Well, since you do not have a conscious program developed, your subconscious program is written by the environment — whether good or bad, whether happy or sad.

Your brain takes the information from the environment and the subconscious programming early in life and forms neurological pathways to control organ, gland, and tissue function in the body. For example, if the early environment is one of high stress, then the subconscious programming will reflect that high stress, it will be programmed to produce stress neurotransmitters and hormones at a much higher level. These neurotransmitters and hormones tell the cells of the body what to do. The classic response neurologically to stress is called flight, fight or fright. The brain actually is molded or developed to handle the subconscious programming, and if the programming is one of stress then the areas of the brain that create the stress neurotransmitters and hormones will become hypertrophic, meaning they will grow larger to secrete more of these molecules. These messages are sent to the cells of the glands, organs, and tissues, which also will adapt with receptor molecules specific for these stress hormones and neurotransmitters that are being produced in larger amounts.

The whole physiology of the body and the brain will adapt to the subconscious stress programming.

The end result
Well, if the subconscious mind is developing stress programs in the early environment of life and the brain and body are adapting to the stress programming by permanently producing larger amounts of stress neurotransmitters, hormones, and receptors for those stress molecules, then we could say that your brain and body are wired for stress. Is this a good or bad thing?

Wired for stress
What is your response to high stress, to situations that you could lose something — even going to the extreme of losing your life?

Well, most everyone knows what that feels like in the short term: if you’ve been in any frightening situation in your life, your heart rate elevates, your blood pressure elevates, your stomach tightens like a knot, your digestion shuts off, you start to sweat, and physiologically you are ready to run from whatever you feel fear. If you saw a lion walking towards you at a distance, and there were no bars or cages, you would experience this reaction physiologically because the programming subconsciously is one for survival, and the survival program only has a few choices: when a fearful situation presents itself, you can either fight to survive in the situation or you need to run to survive. So the body is wired for this and everyone it is a short-term survival program. The brain secretes neurotransmitters and stress hormones in this life-threatening situation, for usually up to 10 minutes, and maximum would be one hour. After that, these neurotransmitters and hormones are depleted. In that 10 minutes to one hour your fate would have been determined you, would’ve either won the fight and survived or ran away way and survived. Or you would’ve not survived. Everyone has this universal programming at the subconscious level for protection, and it is only meant for short-term stimulation. It cannot be sustained chronically.

What environment did you grow up in age 0 to 6?
This is the key in subconscious programming beliefs. At age 2, you were not consciously making decisions of choosing good or bad, choosing happy or sad. No, this came in strong at age 6 and beyond. In this early environment, you only knew one thing: the environment you grew up in was totally controlled by the energy of the environment. And that was dictated by people around you. When a baby is born, it needs to be fed. If it is not it will die, but there is a more important thing besides food that a baby’s subconscious programming needs to be fed, and that is love. Every child depends on its parents to keep it alive — to feed it, to change it, to help it to grow and mature. This is the basis of all subconscious programming. It is based on these very early years with the people in your environment during this time period.

Since subconscious programming is an adaptation to the environment for survival and growing and thriving, and the subconscious programming is a product of the people in that early environment, especially the ones that were the closest — we can see clearly that our belief systems are totally written and controlled by the subconscious programming developed in this environment. So really, your belief is not up to you. It was programmed in your early environment, whether was good or bad, whether it was happy or sad. It is a program subconsciously that runs up to 95% of your physiology, your conscious thoughts and your actions. So you believe what the people in your early environment believed because that energy was transferred to you when the subconscious programming was written. Remember, subconscious programs run automatically with no conscious thought needed — that means these stress programs run independently of you consciously thinking or deciding.

Am I just a robot?
Yes, and no: you are programmed by your early environment just like a robot is programmed, but also if you can find the program in the mind-brain-body interface and rewrite it subconsciously, then you can change the program completely. This can be done two ways.

  1. Divine revelation and awareness that does not come from this realm or
  2. using specialized brain imaging to locate the mind-brain imbalances, release them, and reprogram them — then go back and re-image the brain to make sure the new programs have remained and have become the new foundation. You cannot rewrite these subconscious programs with any other technique: those techniques can temporarily reduce the stress of the subconscious programs, but cannot rewrite them permanently. This has been verified by brain imaging: whatever work has been done, it has not remained long-term as a rewritten program on the hard drive of the brain and wired into the tissue itself.

This is what the last 40 years of research at Revolution New Medicine has produced. This is the most important and foundational area to address in your mental-emotional and physical health, no matter what the disorder or disease. The subconscious programs and belief systems must be released and rewritten, and verified that the rewritten programs have been established in the brain and the nervous system. Then and only then will the belief system you were given early in life no longer control your life, your thoughts, your emotions, and your health or disease.

As a man thinks in his heart or in his mind, so is he in his emotions and in his body.

(1) Benedetti, Fabrizio et al. “Neurobiological mechanisms of the placebo effect.” The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience vol. 25,45 (2005): 10390-402. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3458-05.2005, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6725834/

(2) Perl, O., Shuster, A., Heflin, M. et al. Nicotine-related beliefs induce dose-dependent responses in the human brainNat. Mental Health 2, 177–188 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s44220-023-00188-9, https://www.nature.com/articles/s44220-023-00188-9

(3) Becca R. Levy, Attitudes about aging affect longevity, study says, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 83, No. 2, August, 2002, https://www.apa.org/monitor/oct02/attitudes

(4) Wallace, L. E., Anthony, R., End, C. M., & Way, B. M. (2019). Does Religion Stave Off the Grave? Religious Affiliation in One’s Obituary and Longevity. Social Psychological and Personality Science10(5), 662-670. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550618779820

(0) Dominguez, Ligia J et al. “The link between spirituality and longevity.” Aging clinical and experimental research vol. 36,1 32. 11 Feb. 2024, doi:10.1007/s40520-023-02684-5, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10859326/