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Placebo Effect

The placebo effect is used to describe an improvement in health - when something that has no active therapeutic effect (e.g. a sugar pill resembling a drug) - still produces an effect due to the recipient's expectations/belief/faith. It is not the same as spontaneous remission or fluctuation of symptoms throughout a disease.

In research/science/medicine, the placebo effect has a negative connotation. It is regarded as something fake or empty and is the explanation for all sorts of pseudo-science working. It is associated with snake oil, with quackery and other fraudulent or delusional health scams.
Much CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) is dismissed as merely placebo effect. The NHS warns us that we may then miss out on more effective treatments.

However, you cannot separate a person's beliefs from a health treatment.
Instead of denigrating the placebo effect, why not utilise it?
Consider these quotes:-
  • 'Between one and two-thirds of all healing is down to the placebo effect,’ rather than therapies, drugs or surgery, according to renowned author and stem cell biologist Bruce Lipton: ‘The placebo is just a sugar-pill – the patient is healed by the power of positive thinking; the belief they’ll get better.’ (Kindred Spirit, posted 15 March 2016, accessed 19 March 2016)
  • We know that 18 to 80% of the time, patients taking sugar pills... get better because they believe they're getting the real treatment. In other words, if you believe some herb, tea, tonic, vitamin, or nutritional supplement holds the key to your cure, by all means, take it. (Lissa Rankin, MD,  posted 2013, accessed 8 December 2013)
  • In some way we have to convince the patient that we are doing something... It is the trust, the belief, and the ability of the patient who is actually being healed, that matters most. (Lilla Bek, audio tape '16 - How to be a Healer and What to Avoid', side four, 0m0s)
  • Your faith has made you well. (Jesus Christ in many places in the New Testament Bible: Matthew 9:22 and Mark 5:34 to a diseased woman, Luke 17:19 to 10 lepers, Luke 18:42 to a blind beggar, Matthew 8:13, Matthew 15:28, Luke 7:50, Mark 10:52)
Although a placebo is often given by deception, it is in fact active in any relationship, health-related or otherwise.
The lesson is surely NOT that the placebo is something that is to be mocked or ignored.
The simple answer is that this powerful effect needs to be harnessed.
The truth is that the 'fake' placebo effect is often more real than the treatment or drug.
We are harnessing the power of love.

Health systems need to invest in this care and love far more than in technology, chatbots or drugs. They need to become patient-centred.
We need to spearhead the power of the therapeutic relationship. The ability to create positivity in others is perhaps the most valuable attribute of any doctor, nurse, healer, counsellor, leader. It is more useful than intelligence or knowledge. It is something which does not require years of specialised training. It is an instinctive human trait that is totally undervalued in our society. People need to be employed on their ability to elicit a placebo effect!
It is the power of love.

The movie Patch Adams has this on this crucial need for a compassionate relationship between healer and patient:

Death is not the enemy, gentlemen. If we are going to fight a disease, let us fight one of the most terrible diseases of all - indifference. Now, I've sat in your schools and heard people lecture on transference and professional distance. Transference is inevitable, sir. Every human being has an impact on another. Why don't we want that in a patient-doctor relationship? That's why I've listened to your teachings and I believe they're wrong. A doctor's mission should be not to just prevent death but also to improve the quality of life. That's why you treat a disease - you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you - you win - no matter what the outcome. (Patch Adams, 1h38m21s)

Placebo Effect in Society
Society needs to champion the placebo effect, because otherwise, as Bruce Lipton implies, the placebo is concussed and the nocebo thrives. The nocebo effect is similar to the placebo effect, but is a change for the worse. The nocebo effect in society is when we feel powerless, especially in the face of the onslaught of daily negative news.
So, we need the good news.
We need to create a powerful Culture of Love.

Placebo Effect in Spirituality
The same phenomenon is in action with spiritual or religious matters, whether in relation to equipment or to gurus. Consider:
  • Many people wear talismans (a medallion, a cross, a symbol) convinced that they will be aided and protected! Well, no, owning a talisman, however powerful, is not enough to ensure the help and protection of entities from the invisible realm. You can only count on the power of a talisman if you work spiritually and physically in harmony with what it represents, with what it contains in terms of powers and virtues. It is like a creature who needs to be given the food suited to it, and your emanations are this food. If it is imbued with purity, you have to live a pure life; if it is imbued with light, you have to nurture the light in you; if it is imbued with strength, you must work to overcome your weaknesses, and so on. No cross, no medallion, no symbol can protect you, even if it has been blessed, unless you also wear it within you in the form of divine qualities and virtues. (O.M. Aïvanhov)
  • A spiritual master is a being who possesses great psychic powers, but these powers do not allow him to act at all times, in every location, under any circumstances, and with just anyone. A verse of the Gospels says that, when passing through Nazareth, Jesus did not perform many miracles because of the scepticism of its inhabitants. So, even though he possessed great powers, he did not reveal them before people who were not open or trusting. And to the man who requested healing for himself or for his child, he replied, ‘According to your faith, may it be to you’, or, ‘Your faith has made you well’. Of course, those who are ignorant will say that Jesus was self-centred and vain, and this is why he agreed to help only those who had blind faith in him. No, the true explanation is that faith and doubt can be compared to chemical compounds: faith is made of subtle elements which favour fulfilment, and doubt is made of elements that oppose it. (O.M. Aïvanhov)
  • And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:58 about Jesus Christ)
Resources:-

Also see:-

Culture of Love

Placebo Effect & CAM


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