this is your mind on placebos
Updated: Feb 27, 2019
Placebos have been around since the 18th century and most people have heard of the placebo effect, but how many of us have really given how it works a second thought? Of course we know that the placebo works because we have a belief that a certain action we are taking produces certain results and yet, it’s funny how many people will question the validity that you have to believe something in order to get the outcome you desire. The word placebo literally means, “I shall please”, which is completely in line with the Law of Attraction. I shall please my belief in something by creating the expected outcome. The original meaning (back in the 18th century) was used by doctors in the context of, “I shall please the patient more than the benefit by administering some medical procedure or pill”. Pretty cool! And usually what happened was the patient experienced some relief from their symptoms just by believing that what they were taking was healing them.
By definition, a placebo effect occurs when a pill, procedure, or behavior has the intended outcome, for example the relief of headache or alleviating depression simply because the person believes that it will have that outcome. The placebo effect is truly mind-over-body, or mind-over-mind, in action. The pill may be a sugar pill but if you think that it’s going to work, it just might.
Placebo effects are very real. There is evidence that a sugar pill, “fake” treatment or even “fake” surgery can lead people to feel less anxious, to show reduced inflammation, to experience a decrease in blood pressure, and even to build muscle mass. The latest science on placebos based on a Harvard study show that when researchers gave people with irritable bowel syndrome a bottle of pills labeled placebo and explained that placebos have been shown to be effective in clinical studies, even though the meds were obvious fakes, they still worked and patients experienced significant improvement in their symptoms. They also found that those placebos injected intravenously are more effective than those taken orally, and that the more expensive the placebo, the higher the success rate. So what is that really saying here? We know something is a fake and yet we still feel relief from our symptoms? We think more expensive is more effective? Is it just the “act” of doing something that causes us to feel better?
It has also been found that among patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, fake acupuncture (in which needles are inserted at nontraditional locations) worked just as well for pain relief as the real thing according to a study. And patients reported better results when the practitioner said things like “I’ve had a lot of success treating knee pain” than when she said “It may or may not work for you”. Can you imagine what would happen if a doctor didn’t tell you, you had a terminal illness (in which many people die within the time-frame that has been “allotted” to them) and were actually told they can affect their level of healing? I understand there are ethics and morals involved here, especially within the medical profession, but this is clearly Law of Attraction in Action!
We know how important beliefs are in attracting what we want and expectations play a big role in this. If we believe something is good for us, will make us feel better or even lose weight – not matter what it is – we are pretty likely to get the results we expect even if popular thought tells us otherwise. What’s interesting is that is goes back to where we put our attention and our thoughts about where our attention is going. Perhaps when we take a sugar pill knowing that it’s a fake makes us feel better because we’ve taken an action, any action to participate in our healing and therefore we feel some relief from that alone. We also can resort back to other times when we have taken pills (aspirin for example for a headache) and have felt better. We associate the action of taking a pill with feeling better. It is kind of reminiscent of Pavlov’s dog. I know from personal experience how this can operate. One of the things I love to do is get massages. My body is so conditioned to the way I feel during and after a massage (those expectations) that just getting on a massage table even before a hand is laid on me, I start to relax, my body begins to melt and I am completely at peace. Because that has been my experience so many times before, I expect to feel better.
We also experience this on a daily basis. We have expectations all day long and know that certain actions, thoughts and beliefs create certain results. We come in late to work and our boss gives us a look. We stress about getting home in time before the babysitter has to leave and end up having unexpected traffic.
So, my thought here is, what would happen is we shifted our expectations to the result we desired? If we believed that an action we were taking (just because we were taking an action that felt good to us) worked because we expected it to? Isn’t this really how LOA works? What if instead of hoping for a specific outcome, we expected it, just as we expected to have our symptoms dissipate when we took the pill our doctor gave us? If we can manifest changes in our physical bodies and release pain and symptoms purely on expectations, think of the possibilities we have in all areas of our lives. And, how much we bring into our lives that we don’t want because we expect that as well? Remembering we are deliberate creators, reminds us that we can get the outcomes we desire by expecting them.