You’ve all heard of the placebo effect which is, in essence, the healing power of positive belief. Less well-known, however, is the nocebo effect, the opposite side of the coin. As the name suggests the nocebo effect describes any case where a negative frame of mind has an adverse effect on our health and well-being.
Research has shown that the nocebo effect can reverse the body’s response to medical treatment from positive to negative. There are many such stories in the medical literature and some doctors think that more attention should be paid to it. Thirty four college students developed headaches when told that a non-existent electrical current passing through their heads could produce a headache and there are double-blind studies documented where patients given sugar pills experienced side effects of the drug they thought they were taking. More disturbingly, there are stories of patients dying after having been given a diagnosis of terminal illness. Bruce Lipton, in his book “The Biology of Belief” writes about Sam Londe who died soon after being given a diagnosis of fatal cancer. The autopsy found very little cancer in Sam’s body, certainly nothing that was enough to kill him. His doctor is still asking himself the question: did Sam die because he believed he was going to die?
Extreme optimists often suffer the censure of others who claim that they refuse to accept reality and are naive in some way. But, as cell biologist Bruce Lipton says,”….rose coloured glasses are necessary for your cells to thrive. Positive thoughts are a biological mandate for a happy, healthy life.”
So, as pessimism can hinder treatment, there is every reason to do our best to generate strong positive expectations about any health condition we experience, whether it is something minor, which we self-medicate or something for which we are getting professional treatment. We appreciate that this is not always easy, so the following is offered to be of help.
Sit quietly and comfortably, take a few deep breaths and focus your attention on your breathing to achieve a calm and relaxed state. Then think about all the things in your life that you appreciate and for which you are grateful. Use your imagination and bring in all your senses. For example, if you loved a meal you recently had, re-live the experience, enjoying the tastes, how the food looked on the plate, and if you cooked the meal the compliments you received from yourself or others. Exaggerate and embellish so you feel even more appreciative and grateful. After doing this for a short time imagine yourself in perfect health, without your present condition. Tell yourself a story of health, stamina, and energy.
And for the tappers –
Tap on any emotions associated with your condition (whether its a cold or something more serious) – fear, frustration, impatience. Accept your feelings then add a “Choices” statement about an improvement in the thoughts you have around your health.
Eg. Even though I feel impatient and want to heal quickly, I accept myself and how I feel.
And move on to:
Even though I have these negative thoughts about my health, I love knowing I can choose empowering thoughts of health and well-being.
Jocelyn and Kristina at Trance-Formed