Can you WILL illness away?

Hi, first of all, sorry if this question is in the wrong sub-category.

I have a friend who is a non-practicing Catholic who believes a lot of nonsense, but one thing he mentioned recently is that people can WILL themselves better if they are sick - that someone who has cancer could will it away. He’s probably found cases of it online.

Do you believe this is possible? And if so how should a Christian view it? It seems to me the opposite of what we should do as a Christian, which is to depend on God.
The problem with my friend is, if he can will himself better if he gets sick, why would he need God, nevermind medicine?

No, you can’t will away an illness. Scientology teaches that, but that still doesn’t mean it’s true. There have been cases where a child of parents in scientology dies because they refused to take the child to the doctor for an illness. I guess you could call it “mind over matter.” Well, it doesn’t work. If it were so, why do little kids die? Wouldn’t there be a safeguard against that?

Sorry, this is one issue that gets me on my soap box. :shrug:

Thanks for your reply. What would i say if he gave me, for example, an online article of someone who had willed themselves better? Or at least claimed to have done so…

only God can will away illness. Positive outlooks are a good thing, but they don’t cure cancer or even a simple cold.

Also, if I were to engage your friend in discussion, I would conceed that it MIGHT be possible for humans to one day learn how to increase their white blood cells at “will” (99.99999% chance that it won’t happen, but I would conceed the point) but white blood cells are limited in what they can do. But even if you could control your white blood cells, white blood cells cannot “cure” cancer. White blood cells cannot fix all illness. Fight psedo-science with real science & religion.

God Bless.

But it’s fairly well established that people with a positive outlook on life tend to be healthier and tend to overcome illnesses more easily than people who have a negative outlook.

Is it a matter of willing yourself better? No. On the other hand, there are brain chemicals that have an effect on how the rest of the body functions. Just one example I’m aware of: serotonin in the brain is connected to our emotional states, and also has a function in the digestive tract. Drugs that are used to alleviate depression/anxiety can also be prescribed for irritable bowel syndrome, for example.

Unfortunately there are people who believe in faith healing. A couple in Philadelphia recently had two of their children die because they chose to pray for recovery rather than seek medical care. :frowning:

You can not will away any disease. The only way you can cure a disease is to treat it medically and that may cure or slow down the progress of the disease. If you have cancer you can pray to God for healing, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have medical treatment for it.
If you break a leg can you will it away? You can not will away disease, organ failure or cancer by thinking about it either.

Look at the article online and see if it provides documented medical proof. If it doesn’t, point that out to your friend.

He’s probably been reading either Mary Baker Eddy (“Christian” Science) or various New Age quacks.

Do you believe this is possible? And if so how should a Christian view it? It seems to me the opposite of what we should do as a Christian, which is to depend on God.

Well, Jesus healed the sick. He didn’t tell them “Friend, will yourself to get better! You don’t need Me!”

The problem with my friend is, if he can will himself better if he gets sick, why would he need God, nevermind medicine?

He can’t. This is simply a modified form of Pelagianism - glorifying man’s powers and downplaying those of God. Like all forms of Pelagianism, it will lead to a sticky end in this world and the next. You might want to remind him about that little verse on “not putting the Lord, your God, to the test.”

Good call.

I don’t think you can “will” an illness away. Now there are certain diseases that are caused by stress or are the product of that person’s actions. Obviously in one of those diseases a change in the actions or reducing stress is obviously going to cause improvements also there areany things that influence health from your diet to optimism. If you have a very healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle the consequence of that is going to be the lack of certain illnesses ( geez I have a 97 year old grandaunt who is healthier than the entire family and who doesn’t take any medication). But setting like TB or chicken pox to give you an example no one can get cured without seeing a doctor.

Nicely put and balanced, common-sense summation. :thumbsup: I have been more than ever in my life - I suppose as I hit middle age it became more of a priority :wink: - cultivating a positive outlook to influence my health for the better.

However, I do this with the caveat of avoiding extremes or possibly heretical modes of thinking, and not taking foolish risks. Above all, I educate myself on nutrition and exercise and those things that have been proven to have some positive effect. Then work on putting them into practice.

And I keep in mind that it’s not magic, and it’s not all about me. I reflect upon my body being the temple of the Holy Spirit, and prayer and gratitude to Almighty God for the blessings of the health I do have must be at the heart of it all. I even thank Him that I’ve had the insight to proceed in this manner, and try not to let my ego get in there and mess with things.

I do feel there has been tangible benefit and that it will continue - God willing - and I try to share what I have discovered with others and encourage them to focus on the positive. :yup:

I’m going to offer a slightly different take from some of the above, as I feel compelled to answer your question in the affirmative–simply because it certainly can fall within the realm of possibility (under the ‘anything’s possible’ umbrella), if for no other reason than that the multitude of testimonials of ppl. ‘willing themselves better’, cannot be scientifically ruled out.

Certainly it’s not a mainline Catholic position to hold that we can ‘will ourselves better’, but scientifically–although there is no science to support the notion–there also isn’t the science to rule it out conclusively or definitively.

The Catholic view on these types of cases, I believe, would be that God interceded for us; God Willed a miracle for us; we were rewarded for our faith (or rather, by our faith, we were able to appeal to the Lord’s omnipotence and infinite mercy, and our prayers were therefore answered in the affirmative–making in perfectly clear that the ‘power’ of the will, was God’s, not our own); or something along those lines…

I have been the beneficiary of a couple of miracles (well one for me; but a few others for very close family members)–and certainly my view was that the Lord took mercy on me/us–not that we magically willed the miracle.


I think some mental illnesses can be willed away. You don’t take any physical medication, but usually do need support from friends, family, and lots of prayer. There have been miracles through a saint’s intercessions, but I think those require prayer from the people around the afflicted to help their loved one. The single person on their own praying would not be enough. Even then, it would cease to be their will, but God’s will.

Whenever I have a cold, I will myself to get better and in a week to ten days I feel completely cured.

Mental illness can not be willed away. If that were so, I’d no longer be mentally ill. God only knows the times I tried to do just that. But, realistically, medical treatment (seeing doctors, taking medication) helps, but doesn’t yet cure.


Strict dietary changes can reverse a lot of diseases or halt their progress. There are obviously some situations where western medicine is necessary. Ultimately, we can not add a day to our lives, this is up to God. The only thing we can do is change the quality of our lives.

as someone who survived terminal brain cancer with only an 11% chance of survival and someone who made an almost full recovery from a stroke the answer is yes and no.

you can not simply will the illness away but an Iron will to live will help you and if you fight hard enough you will win. However I know that I could not have gained the will required except through God
you need to rely on God to give you the tools but you need to use them to set things in motion. However ultimately when God calls we can’t fight it it but with Faith and help from God you can use your will to achieve great things

an figure in history we can look to is teddy roosevelt. He was a frail sick young child but through nothing but will he became a bad ***

I heard of a story but it has been so long ago that I don’t remember the source, so take it or leave it.

Anyway, there were some rats and I don’t remember the place. It might have been set up or something someone observed. But these dozen or so rats lined up in a circular ring. And inside of the ring in the middle was another rat which none of the other rats wanted around. So that starred down the rat in the center, and the center rat felt their hatred so much that it died.

That is supposed to be true.

I have also heard of doctors, not a few, say to relatives that it is up to the patient whether he wants to live or not, and that was very important for regaining his health.

Some interesting posts on this thread,
Makes me hopeful that God helps those
who trust in Him!

Not being in the best of health myself, I guess I cannot.
Perhaps, if someone could explain just how this is supposed to be done.
I mean, through an act of will, I can get myself to work despite how I feel.
I understand also that it is my will that is involved in responding here.
Again, how does one will one’s illnesses away?
Am I supposed to close my eyes and strain real hard, thinking, “Get better. Get better.”?
Are there special words that I should use?
Well, based on experiences not only with my own health, but that of many others, I’d have to say I don’t know what your friend is talking about.
When we hear “Oh, ye of little faith”, it refers to faith in God, not some self-delusion that you can cause anything to happen if you wish hard enough.

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