It’s quite evident that in every healing related to body, our mind play a major role. The beliefs, which we set in our mind during this treatment phase either support that healing or not. When they support, we may call the effect as placebo effect but when they didn’t we call it as nocebo effect.
While many in the medical profession are aware of the placebo effect, few have considered its implications for self-healing. If positive thinking can pull you out of depression and heal a damaged knee, consider what negative thinking can do in your life. When the mind, through positive suggestion, improves health, it is referred to as the placebo effect. Conversely, when the same mind is engaged in negative suggestions that can damage health the negative effects are referred to as the nocebo effect.
In medicine, the nocebo effect can be as powerful as the placebo effect, a fact you should keep in mind every time you step into a doctor’s office. By their words and their treatment, physicians can convey hope-deflating messages to their patients, messages that are completely unwarranted. For example the potential power of the statement: “You have six months to live.” If you choose to believe your doctor’s message, you are not likely to have much more time on this Earth.
Program of Discovery Heath Channel
Bruce H. Lipton, an American developmental biologist, have cited the Discovery Health Channel’s 2003 program “Placebo: Mind Over Medicine” in this reference because it is a good set of some of medicine’s most interesting cases.
One of its more emotional segments featured a physician, Clifton Meador, who has been reflecting on the potential power of the nocebo effect for thirty years. In 1974 Meador had a patient, Sam Londe, a retired shoe salesman suffering from cancer of the esophagus (informally known as the food pipe in body), a condition that was at the time considered 100 percent fatal. Londe was treated for that cancer, but everyone in the medical community “knew” that his esophageal cancer would recur. So it was no surprise when Londe died a few weeks after his diagnosis.
The surprise came after Londe’s death when an autopsy found very little cancer in his body, certainly not enough to kill him. There were a couple of spots in the liver and one in the lung, but there was no trace of the esophageal cancer that everyone thought had killed him. Meador told the Discovery Health Channel: “He died with cancer, but not from cancer.” What did Londe die of if not esophageal cancer? Had he died because he believed he was going to die? The case still haunts Meador three decades after Londe’s death: “I thought he had cancer. He thought he had cancer. Everybody around him thought he had cancer . . . did I remove hope in some way?” Troublesome nocebo cases suggest that physicians, parents, and teachers can remove hope by programming you to believe you are powerless.
Beliefs Act as Filters in Camera
Our positive and negative beliefs not only impact our health but also every aspect of our life. Henry Ford was right about the efficiency of assembly lines, and he was right about the power of the mind: “If you believe you can or if you believe you can’t . . . you’re right.” If you have faith in treatment, there is good chance that you will be cured. But if you are having doubt about treatment or doctor or if you have listen something negative about hospital then it may affect you negatively in your recovery in spite of good treatment.
Think about the implications of the man who innocently drank the bacteria that medicine had decided caused cholera. Consider the people who walk across coals without getting burned. If they wobble in the steadfastness of their belief that they can do it, they wind up with burned feet. Your beliefs act like filters on a camera, changing how you see the world. And your biology adapts to those beliefs. When we truly recognize that our beliefs are that powerful, we hold the key to freedom. While we cannot readily change the codes of our genetic blueprints, we can change our minds and, in the process, switch the blueprints used to express our genetic potential.
You Can Choose What to See
Following experience in the word of Dr. Lipton cited in his book The Biology of Belief goes like “In my lectures I provide two sets of plastic filters, one red and one green. I have the audience pick one colour and then look at a blank screen. I then tell them to yell out whether the image I project next is one that generates love or generates fear. Those in the audience that don the red “belief” filters see an inviting picture of a cottage labelled “House of Love,” flowers, a sunny sky and the message: “I live in Love.” Those wearing the green filters see a threatening dark sky, bats, snakes, a ghost hovering outside a dark, gloomy house, and the words: “I live in fear.” I always get enjoyment out of seeing how the audience responds to the confusion when half yell out: “I live in love,” and the other half, in equal certainty, yells out: “I live in fear” in response to the same image.
Then I ask the audience to change to the opposite coloured filters. My point is that you can choose what to see. You can filter your life with rose-coloured beliefs that will help your body grow or you can use a dark filter that turns everything black and makes your body/mind more susceptible to disease. Now it’s your choice to live a life of fear or live a life of love. But I can tell you that if you choose to see a world full of love, your body will respond by growing in health. If you choose to believe that you live in a dark world full of fear, your body’s health will be compromised as you physiologically close yourself down in a protection response.”
Positive thoughts are a biological mandate for a happy, healthy life and to avoid nocebo effect.
“The placebo effect is one of the most fascinating things in the whole of medicine. It’s not just about taking a pill, and your performance and your pain getting better. It’s about our beliefs and expectations. It’s about the cultural meaning of a treatment.”- Ben Goldacre