Thursday, September 13, 2007

Animal Thoughts

The following article by Lynne McTaggart is about the recent work of Rupert Sheldrake, as he investigates the amazing ability of animals to predict health problems in humans. It is so good I wanted to share it with you. My thanks to Lynne for writing this, and to Georgia Pearson for sending it to me. PMH

Rupert Sheldrake

In my time away I've been gearing up for our Biology of Transformation conference on September 22 in London. I'm especially fascinated by what appears to be our innate capacity to predict diseases, including cancer, as evidenced by the precognitive ability of animals. Rupert Sheldrake, the famous British biologist who will be featured at our conference, has amassed copious evidence about the ability of dogs to predict all sorts of diseases in their owners, and to warn them. 

Seizure alerts

Sheldrake's files contain extraordinary case studies of many dogs who were able to alert their owners that they were having epileptic fits. Many seizure-response dogs trained help their owners get to a safe place before a seizure have advanced from responding to seizures to actually predicting them. Some 10 per cent of people with seizure-response dogs claim their dogs have become seizure-alert dogs.

Besides epileptic fits, dogs-and even cats-have learned to monitor blood-sugar levels in diabetic owners. Sheldrake recounts one 1992 study by Gloucestershire doctors who interviewed diabetics with pets. Of 43 owners, 15-nearly a third-claimed that their animals gave them warning by either barking to get their attention or seeking a neighbour for help.

In one instance, a dog named Max lived with a severe diabetic. If her blood-sugar levels plummeted in the middle of the night, Max would shake her husband until he woke up to give her the medication. 

Canine cancer detection

The most remarkable cases are those where a pet has helped to diagnose cancer or an emergency like appendicitis. In 1989, The Lancet published a report of a Border Collie-Doberman mixed dog that kept licking and sniffing at a mole on his owner's leg, and even attempted to bite it off when its owner wore shorts. Eventually, the mole was found to be malignant, but at an early stage, so it could be treated (Lancet, 1989; i: 734). Since then, retired orthopaedic surgeon Mr John Church has set up a Canine Olfactory Detection Centre, following another anecdotal report of a dog sniffing out its owner's melanoma.

The center, in the Department of Dermatology at Amersham Hospital, has carried out the first cancer-detection study using six dogs to sniff the urine of patients suspected of having bladder cancer. As a group, the dogs correctly chose the urine of patients with bladder cancer on 22 out of 54 occasions-an average success rate of 41 per cent compared with the 14 per cent expected by chance alone (BMJ, 2004; 329 (7468): 712).

Although the doctors at Amersham Hospital assume that the dogs are picking up some odour unavailable to humans, the answer may be more subtle. Sheldrake's database contains many stories of dogs who predicted appendicitis, heart attack, fainting, common-or-garden illnesses like flu and even sudden death. Most recently, a 2006 study published in the Journal for Integrative Cancer Therapies, found that dogs were able to accurately predict bladder and breast cancer 88-97 per cent of the time.

Sheldrake says there are several possible explanations of how a pet can predict a fit. The animal somehow:

* senses electrical changes in its owner
* notices minute changes in his owner's behaviour or physicality
* smells a different odour in his owner. This is the most well accepted theory among the medical profession.

Cancer cells, for instance, are known to produce far different chemical compounds than those made by normal healthy cells. Some might even produce distinctive odours detectable by dogs, even at the tiny amounts found in a few rogue cells.
A British study of bladder cancer concluded that 'tumour-related volatile compounds' released in urine give off a smell distinct from those associated with secondary effects of the tumour, including bleeding.
Nevertheless, says Sheldrake, these possibilities don't account for reported cases where dogs have picked up such clues from another room and have come bounding in to warn their owners.

Why do animals have so much more precognitive ability than we do?

Much of the research into animal thinking shows fairly conclusively that animals think in pictures. In one Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, mice taught to run a maze were implanted with electrodes
to compare their brain patterns while awake and asleep. During the maze runs, certain brain sections would fire so that the researchers were able to predict whether the rat was turning right or left.

During sleep, the same firing occurred, suggesting that the mice were dreaming of running the maze. The researchers concluded that, if mice dream in pictures, they must also think in pictures while awake. 

Other researchers know that 'verbal overshadowing', as Temple Gradin calls it, interferes with memory. It may well be that language and thinking in words also sup-presses our cognitive ability to pick up future events.

Learning about your own precognitive ability from animals means developing those areas of awareness that are beyond language - your innate ability to tap into The Field. 

Warm wishes,

Lynne McTaggart

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