Power of the mind - The Placebo effect






Be it sports, music, business, military or politics, top performance in any field is always the result of a large component of self-belief. 

Doubts by contrast, can poison any performance. One of the main reasons for people failing to realise their potential is, they doubt their own abilities.

The most famous evidence of power of belief is to be found in the field of medicine. The placebo effect phenomenon is often quoted. 


In 1957, the psychologist Bruno Klopfer, presented his renowned report 'Psychological Variables in Human Cancer'. It describes a patient referred to as 'Mr. Wright' who suffered from an advanced stage of cancer. Mr. Wright had advanced lymph sarcoma with tumours the size of oranges in his neck, groin, chest and armpits. He had already exhausted all known treatments and all the doctors expected Mr. Wright to die in the not too distant future. 

Nevertheless, Mr. Wright was confident that a new anti-cancer drug called Krebiozen, would cure him. Dr. Klopfer attempted a radically different approach to save Mr. Wright, who  was bedridden and fighting for every breath, when he was given his first injection of what he believed was Krebiozen - in fact it was water.

Dr. Klopfer who had little hope and he expected Mr. Wright to be dead within a few days, was amazed to find him out of bed, happily chatting away with other patients and joking with the nurses. His tumours had shrunk by half and after further 10 days of treatment he was deemed fit be discharged from the hospital. However the other patients who had received Krebiozen injections showed no improvements what so ever. 

Within a few months negative reports began to appear in the media about the effectiveness of the drug Krebiozen. Mr. Wright learnt about this and relapsed into his original state, extremely depressed and close to death once again. 

At this point Dr. Klopfer assured Mr. Wright that the bad press was due to early shipments of the drug deteriorating during transit, and promised to treat Mr. Wright with some fresh, extra-potent Krebiozen. Mr. Wright regained his positive attitude and began to respond to the treatment with amazing results. He did not know that the injections he received were actually only water

Mr. Wright's experience is no means exceptional. The power of belief, making ill people well again has been documented numerous times. People earlier thought that the positive results were just changes in perception of people, however it was later discovered that placebos can often cause positive biological changes by influencing brain chemicals, stress hormones, and the immune system. 

The entire change was triggered purely by belief system and was not at all influenced by the pharmacological properties of the drug administered.  

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The Nocebo effect
is the opposite of placebo effect, resulting from psychological manipulation to produce negative expectations.
This approach has always been used by people who wish to dominate others. They plant ideas and thoughts of inferiority and inadequacy in the minds of weaker spirited people to manipulate and control them.

They make the people feel they are weak, unworthy and helpless. Religious fanatics, colonised historians, educators and media usually play a powerful role in producing a national nocebo effect.

Even to this day former colonies and oppressed people in spite of now being free are unable to rise and grasp their destiny which is waiting eagerly for them. With feelings of being unworthy of themselves, they are always easy to control and exploit.



What do I do with this information and awareness?

I write articles and deliver talks so as to share my learnings with others.
I also shun people who are always negative, complaining and criticising people and situations while doing nothing about it. I learn both positives and negatives about myself by reflecting on the experience of others and myself.

Every one makes mistakes, I do not let the past hold me to ransom and stop me from believing in myself. I seek out people who create situations that assist me to discover myself and evolve.

Everyone has positives and negatives however, its useful to remember that all the trees in the forest are not the same, but each one serves a valuable purpose.

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