What if there was a drug that could cure a disease or heal an ailment without any side- effects? What if that same drug could speed recovery from an illness or operation, inhibit infection, reduce bleeding, calm inflammation, control pain, help asthmatics breathe easily, or relieve depression? The drug does exist. Or, should I say the ‘non-drug’ exists. In fact, it is the most widely tested ‘drug’ in existence. It is called a ‘placebo’ and the result of a placebo is commonly referred to as ‘the placebo effect’.
What is the placebo effect? Philosopher Robert Todd Carroll writes: “The measurable, observable, or felt improvement in health not attributable to treatment. A placebo (Latin for ‘I shall please’) is a medication or treatment believed by the administrator of the treatment to be inert or innocuous.” It is the name of an inert substance prescribed by physicians for patients to make them feel cared for.
The amazing thing is that this useless action somehow produces many of the effects of a real drug or treatment! In addition, all drugs are tested in a controlled ‘blind study’ against a placebo and the results are nothing short of spectacular.
A placebo can take the form of a suggestion, attitude, word, advice, touch, manipulation, serum, pill, injection or any combination. What is most fascinating about a placebo is that it works simply by being believed in by the recipient and does not work in the absence of such belief.
The placebo is not speculation. It is a proven fact. It also demonstrates the enormous power of belief. What is a belief? It is something that is held to be true in spite of evidence to the contrary. Whether you realize it or not, we run our lives out of beliefs. Beliefs guide all our decisions. We don’t usually stop to consider what our beliefs are; we just go about making the choices in life that we make. Sometimes they are extremely good choices, sometimes disastrous. And this is where the whole area gets sticky.
The human body is a complicated system about which there is still much to discover. The human mind is still very much of a mystery. And it is in that mystery that the placebo becomes a paradox. The placebo can destroy just as easily as it can heal. It can plunge our emotions into darkness. It can inhibit healing. By causing negative stress, placebos can trigger asthma, psoriasis, warts, acne, and eczema.
In my work as a clinical hypnotist, the ultimate art of suggestion, I have made peoples’ eyes water and nose run by smelling an imaginary flower that that they are allergic to. I have even raised blisters by touching their hand or arm with an ice cube and telling them that it was a hot poker!
Surgeons Dr. James Braid and Dr. James Esdaile did hundreds of major operations, including amputations and tumor removals, using only the power of suggestion as anesthesia. Their subjects were told while in a trance, or a state or receptivity, that they would feel nothing and not bleed. Being in this receptive state, they totally believed. Their bodies responded exactly and precisely in accordance with that belief.
So, what does all this stuff about placebos have to do with your everyday personal or professional life? To answer that, I want you to ask yourself these questions: When do I feel the healthiest, happiest and most productive? What state of mind am I in? What do I believe, at that moment, to be true?
Now consider the negative effect of placebos as communication. For example: “You look tired.” “You look depressed.” “You’re doing a lousy job.” “I don’t trust you.” Or when you tell yourself, “I’m a failure.” “My relationship will never be good.” “I will never succeed at my real dreams.” “I’m too old.” “I’m not smart enough.” “The world is not a safe place to live.”
1) Do everything you can to eliminate being around people who are negative, destructive, jealous, and vindictive, or who make you feel depressed.
2) Purposefully surround yourself with friends and acquaintances who have a positive outlook on life.
3) Notice when you are getting into negative self talk and tell yourself to STOP IT!
4) Limit your exposure to the news. It’s almost always negative.
5) Look around your environment and choose to make it healthy and nurturing.
6) Always pay attention to the way you communicate with others. You can choose to help give people hope without becoming preachy or pushy.
You can use the power of the placebo effect to enhance your life and the lives of others.