Previously published in Examiner
Conclusion of the Stigmata series
The mind has a powerful effect upon the central nervous system and the ability to feel pain. “Transmission of information from the nerves in the periphery (ie skin) to nerves in the spinal cord, midbrain and higher centres of the fore brain is mediated by the release of chemicals and electrical impulses. The mental processes of the cerebral cortex will be able to enhance or suppress pain. In other word our brains can determine a lot of what pain we actually feel.
Stigmata is a religious phenomenon reported only within the Roman Catholic church, therefore could it also be a mental disorder evoked by the ultra religious?
Heather Woods was the only exception as she was an Episcopalian minister.
The controversy still persists. There is a body of psychologists and psychiatrists who still believe that these wounds are self inflicted by individuals who are very emotionally distressed. However, the Roman Catholic church, “is cautious and conducts scientific and psychological testing on the subject before declaring the signs of Christ to be valid.
Many stigmatics have suffered much emotional trauma in their lives from abuse to cancer.
Could it be these life stressors and trauma has produced the connection with God and the wounds of stigmata?
A fascinating question though it is, it is still controversial as stated above.
Furthermore several of the stigmatics have been healers, such as Padre Pio. Heather Woods was under the spiritual guidance Father Eric Eades, who channeled healing powers for her wounds from Padre Pio.
Georgette Faniel Georgette Faniel in Montreal, was also a stigmatic healer.
Another theory is that stigmatics often suffer from Munchausen Syndrome, where sufferers crave the attention given to serious illness and then bask in the attention of somehow becoming healed or healing others. Others speculate that the stigmata could be caused by schizophrenia.
The National Geographic channel ran a documentary on a modern day case of stigmata in Mexico City. Dr. Mario Martinez, a clinical psychologist analyzed blood samples of the person afflicted with stigmata to see the reaction of the body immune system’s response to the wounds. See video here: Furthermore there is a BBC interview with Dr. Martinez concerning Padre Pio a Capuchin friar afflicted with stigmata. Padre Pio has been canonized, but are the wounds real, psychological or self-inflicted? Click here for interview