Placebo Effect and Nocebo Effect: The Real Importance
Placebo means healing based on belief. Nocebo means illness based on belief. So, who gives a whit? You should, and soon you’re going to understand why. When you dig a little deeper into understanding the significance of the placebo effect and the nocebo effect, your eyes will be opened to a new world that can change your life. Why do I say that? Because I can prove it to you.
The placebo effect at work
Placebo is a Latin word meaning “I shall please”
The Harvard Study
In this case, 40 patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were given a placebo pill and 40 received no pill. The 40 patients who received the pill showed significant improvement in their symptoms. And get this, they were even told they were being given a placebo. Could this mean that we are so conditioned to the idea that pills heal us that the very act of taking a pill helps to heal us?
Hundreds of studies indicate that the placebo treatment averages out to be roughly 55-60% as effective as the active treatment. And in some cases, the placebo effect completely cures the patient.
Consider this case of a cancer patient who was dying of lymphatic cancer. He believed a new drug was going to cure him. After his doctor administered the drug, his cancer disappeared and the patient was fine. A couple of months after his cure, upon reading that the drug was ineffective in treating cancer, the patient’s cancer returned. His doctor told the patient that the information was false and that the drug really did work. Once again, the cancer completely disappeared. Later the patient read that the drug was being taken off the market because it held no promise as a cancer cure. The patient’s cancer returned and he died. (Brono Klopfer, Psychological Variables in Human Cancer, Journal of Prospective Techniques 31, 1957, pp. 331-40.)
Ask yourself this question, if it wasn’t the treatment that cured this patient, what did the healing?
The nocebo effect at work
Nocebo is a Latin word meaning “I shall harm”
The Framingham Heart Study showed that women who believed they were likely to have heart disease were four times likely to die of heart disease than their counterparts who had no such belief, but had the same risk factors. (Voelker, Rebecca. “Nocebos Contribute to a Host of Ills.” Journal of the American Medical Association 275 no. 5 (1996): 345-47. ) Note: One might also say that perhaps the women who died were more in tune with their bodies than the risk factor tests indicated. However, given the wealth of other studies, one could just as easily say that their beliefs created the higher death rate.
In another study, college students were given a sugar water placebo, but were told the “drug” would cause vomiting. The results: 80% of the students vomited.
The significance of the placebo effect and the nocebo in your life
Both the placebo effect and the nocebo effect have one thing in common. A belief. If you believe something to be true, it often is. And it has nothing to do with actual reality. So how does that play a role in your life? Consider the following ideas:
Happiness is a belief away. It’s your belief that you are happy that brings about happiness. This is particularly true in the developed countries where most people have enough to eat and some form of shelter. In other words, their basic physical needs are met.
That said, even in countries plagued with poverty at its worst, if you look carefully, you will see children playing happily in the street. Could it be that no one has managed to convince them that they should be unhappy in their poverty?
Success is a belief away. It’s your belief that you will be successful in an endeavor that will make it successful. Success to you might be growing beautiful flowers or becoming the CEO of a large corporation. It makes not a bit of difference. However, there is one caveat to all this. If you think you can sit in your living room and just think about success, you’re wrong. First you must decide what success really is for you. Next you need to BELIEVE that success is on its way. Finally, you do what it takes to achieve that success. If you want to raise beautiful flowers, maybe you need to learn what flowers to plant, where to plant them, what fertilizer to use, etc. If you want to become a CEO of a large corporation, maybe you need to go to school or network in the right circles.
Good heath is a belief away. If you believe you will be healthy, chances are good you will be. On the other hand, if you dwell on the idea that you are unhealthy and listen to all the statistics about how awful your health is likely to be and all the diseases you are likely to get, chances are good that you will become one of those statistics. Make a decision that you are going to be healthy, believe it with all your heart and leave the rest to your body. Your body listens to your thoughts and responds to your beliefs; I think science has proven that to you.
What you must know about belief
A belief is a belief. You believe that something is absolutely true. No doubt enters into the picture. Just like the patient who believes the placebo pill is going to help ease his or her pain or cure an ailment. There must be no doubt. Let me repeat NO DOUBT.
You must strive for the feeling of anticipation. For example, let’s say you have planned an amazing vacation. It’s the night before you leave and you have a hard time going to sleep because you know you will be on your way the next morning. There is no doubt in your mind that the trip is on its way for you. You anticipate it without any doubt that it will happen. That’s what I mean when I say belief.
When doesn’t the placebo effect work?
There are only two reasons why the placebo effect won’t work in your life.
- You doubt. There must be no doubt in your mind. Let’s say you decide you want cash. Maybe you think of some number in your mind that is way out of range of possibilities for your mind to perceive as possible. You can never get rid of the doubt, so you never get the cash.
- You ignore the opportunities that will make your dreams come true. Say you decide you want to grow the world’s most beautiful flowers. You’ve accomplished the necessary belief and anticipation that this will happen. As you sit under a tree thinking about all the beautiful flowers you will grow, a world renowned horticulturist walks up to you and starts a conversation. You cut him short because you don’t want him interfering with your thoughts. Feeling slighted, he walks away and out of your life forever and with him goes a wealth of information you need to grow your dream flowers.
The horticulturist represents a gift that was sent to you. This was a gift to help make your dreams come true, but you slapped it out of your life like a pesky fly.
How to effectively use the placebo effect in your life
If you think it’s easy to create the no doubt mind set, try it and you may find it’s not nearly as easy as it sounds. Let’s say you want to be the CEO of a large corporation. The instant you think of yourself in that position, all the negative thoughts and reasons why that can’t happen will likely flood your mind. Listen to those thoughts carefully as they whip around in your brain. What do they say? Perhaps such things as “I’m too old,” I’m too young,” “I’m not smart enough,” and on and on ad nauseam. Notice any emotions that arise from the thoughts.
The key is to quietly listen to the thoughts with awareness, but without participation. Take no more heed of those thoughts than you would if you were listening to a room full of babbling idiots. They have no power whatever unless you give them power.
This will be the first step on your way to using the placebo effect and avoiding the nocebo effect. This step will guide you toward living a happy, healthy and prosperous life.
Why do I know this technique works? It’s what I do and it always works when I keep my thoughts in the right place. In future posts, I’ll share some of my experiences with the placebo effect as it relates to some of the experiences in my life. And believe me, if I can do it, you can do it too. I’m no more special than you are and neither is anyone more special than you are.
I’m not asking you to take my word for any of this. Test it out for yourself. Pick something small that you want or need. Think about it as though it was already yours. Like a package that you know has already been shipped. Create the belief in yourself then watch what happens. Just be sure to give it time. Don’t put a deadline on it, just believe, anticipate and watch. You will be amazed.
Now go have fun and relax.
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