Is there an opposite to the placebo effect?


Can you think your way into illness? Can you worry yourself to death? Most people have heard about the placebo effect, or have heard about a placebo pill.

In medicine, placebos are just sugar pills given to patients who believe they are given medicine. Even though it’s just sugar–the belief the medicine working is just as powerful if not more powerful than the drug itself.

Some people think this shows how people can fool themselves into thinking healing is happening when it’s not. Let’s call them pessimists.

Others believe that this reveals the power of the human mind to direct the self-healing of the body. Let’s call them optimists.

Some say that the bigger and more expensive the pill is—the more powerful the placebo effect is. Placebos can be pills, they can be therapeutic procedures, and they can even be surgeries!

Here’s the weird and potentially dangerous thing about placebos. They have an opposite in something called the nocebo. When medical patients are told that a sugar pill may give them bad symptoms–they experience those symptoms!

In other words if you believe something is good for you–it probably is. And if you believe something is bad for you–it probably is. In the famous words of Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are probably right.”

Which brings us to an interesting idea: Doing something you know will harm your body may be worse than doing something harmful thinking it’s the right thing to do.

In other words, if you’ve got a bad habit and you know it’s bad, it’s either time to start believing that it’s good, or it’s time to find a habit that really is more healthy.

Written by Dr. Ward

Father. Foodie. And dedicated upper cervical chiropractor. Find me practicing gentle upper cervical care in Oakland County, Michigan. Have a question or comment? I'm at your service. Reach me at my Auburn Hills chiropractic practice: (248) 598-4002. Or on Google +, Facebook, or Twitter.

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