Former actress Kelly Noonan Gores directs, writes, and co-produces her documentary Heal. Inspired by The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton and Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani, Gores’ film is made to take its audience on a spiritually and scientifically inquisitive journey. (KIZJ: 4/5)
Review by FF2 Associate Katusha Jin
Kelly Noonan Gores puts on the director’s hat as she digs into her curiosity about the way the mind can influence the body in creating our life experiences. Heal brings together a mixed group of people including practicing professionals, miracle stories, and current patients. Gores acknowledges that the practices she looks into may not be considered the norm, but rather than questioning how unconventional they are, she redirects our focus on why there are so many patients seeking treatment to start with. In her close circle of family friends alone, there are many members who have unexplained headaches, pains, and other mysterious symptoms. Rather than pinning it to the inescapable twists and turns of fate, she wonders if there is another hidden culprit.
The first miracle story is that of the researcher and writer, Joe Dispenza. As a triathlon athlete, he had what he considered a life-changing wakeup call in 1986. When cycling in a competition in Palm Springs, California, he fell victim to a road accident, which compressed six vertebrae in his spine. The prognosis given to him by a doctor suggested he would probably never walk again and desperately needed a Harrington Rod surgery. Despite the urgings from those around him, he checked out of the hospital to follow a thought in his head that wouldn’t quiet down, “The power that made the body heals the body.” He spent hours and days reconstructing his spine using his mind and restarted the process each time he was distracted, until he managed to complete the entire procedure in a week. There were noticeable changes happening in his body, which allowed him to miraculously start walking in ten weeks and even restart training in twelve weeks. Due to this experience, he vowed to spend the rest of his life researching the mind-body connection. The wakeup call for Dispenza wasn’t the accident; it was the change the direction of his life took after he healed.
Dispenza’s personal story and author Gregg Braden’s expertise push for the idea that every organ in the human body has the ability to heal itself. The only issue is that they must be given the right conditions. This is where Elizabeth’s story is brought in. Amongst her peers she is recognized as the individual who leads a lifestyle that is as healthy as one can get; she is a yoga enthusiast, an acupuncturist, and feeds her body in a healthy, balanced manner. Yet, even with all these efforts, she still started to feel unwell. After numerous visits to the doctor and complaining about the pain, she was diagnosed with stage four cancer. This came as a shock to her because on the surface, she had been doing everything right. However, Elizabeth admits that during the period leading up to this diagnosis, she was also going through a stressful period in her life. She had just moved home, her mother passed away, and she was in a bad marriage. Gores then turns the focus of her documentary towards stress and the effects it has on the health of our bodies.
Stress is one of the biggest reasons for people’s visits to doctors. Whether it is physical stress, chemical stress, or emotional stress, when any of these are heightened, it puts the human body out of balance. In a deeper explanation, the experts describe stress as the body being in a constant fight-or-flight response. This puts all of the energy into producing adrenaline and cortisol, whilst mobilizing resources from the immune system, gut, higher brain centers, and so on. This leads to the inability to concentrate, remember, digest, and perform many other bodily functions. In fact, Bruce Lipton goes even further in depicting how powerful stress hormones are, by explaining that doctors use stress hormones in patients during an organ transplant; it shuts down the immune system and the body ceases to reject the foreign organ.
Society today is full of stress-inducing events and so many people live stressful lifestyles. Regardless of where the stress is coming from, there isn’t enough attention being paid towards the effects it has on mental health and what should be done to cope and heal the mind from it. Coincidentally, one of Gores’ co-workers, Eva Lee, is another example of someone who has visited the doctor numerous times, but is still experiencing an unknown illness without a known cause. Gores takes Lee through some unconventional treatments as an alternative to the traditional medicinal treatments that have failed her so far.
When struck with illnesses and diseases, most patients are expected to hand over the reigns to the doctors in white coats unquestioningly. When the occasional patient refuses to undergo a treatment, their family and friends try to persuade them, one way or another, to simply follow what the doctor says. Society teaches us that doctors know best, patients are expected to follow the doctor’s orders, and that this is the norm. But is medicine really the only answer? What if our bodies really do have the ability to heal themselves?
Heal faces tough challenges as it takes on a topic that many roll their eyes at without giving it a chance to argue its validity. Even so, Director Kelly Noonan Gores creates a well-balanced interweaving of stories and facts that make these ideas easy to follow and understand. The stylistic choice of having Gores talk into a computer was jolting at times, however, especially the first time she talks into her laptop’s camera. Nevertheless, the cast is rich with so many leading professionals and this makes for a compelling and persuasive documentary. As someone who shares Gores’ curiosity about the links between the mind, the body, and our health, I have been greatly inspired to read the books that initially planted the seed for this insightful piece of documentary work.
© Katusha Jin (10/26/17) FF2 Media
Top Photo: Director Kelly Noonan Gores.
Middle Photo: Eva Lee divulging her worries to a spiritual healer.
Bottom Photo: A spiritual healer working with a patient.
Photo Credits: Christopher Gallo
Does Heal pass the Bechdel-Wallace test?
There is barely any dialogue between women in the film that is about a man. An example off the top of my head is when Elizabeth discusses her cancer treatment procedures with Director Kelly Noonan Gores.