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Placebo Therapy


There are two sides to this therapy.  There is the placebo effect and the nocebo effect.  The placebo effect deals with positive healing outcomes.  The nocebo deals with negative healing outcomes.  


In the early 1900’s there was the a university that did an experiment on the nocebo effect.  They took a healthy man who had agreed to be involved in a medical experiment, and they activated a nocebo scenario. He did not know exactly what the experiment was.   


They told the man, who they were going to experiment on, that they needed to give him a medical exam

 medical exam

so that they could see how different he was at the end of the experiment.  There was no experiment in the normal sense that was planned.  Rather this was a setup for the real experiment about the the nocebo effect.  


After the initial physical exam, they came and told the perfectly healthy man that they could not do the experiment, because they had found that he had a deadly disease for which there was no cure.  They told him to come back in a week, and they would have a specialist there to see what possibly could be done for him.  


Their intent was to in a week give him another physical and see what changes had happened in the body as a result of the bad news.  However in a week the man did not return.  As a result, they went looking for him.  They found him dead.  The perfectly healthy man had died from the nocebo effect.  


This experiment was never repeated, at least intentionally.  How many doctors do the nocebo in what they tell or how they tell the patient about a serious condition?  Nowadays many doctors seem to have as a part of standard practice to tend toward bad bedside manner.  It for them is all about test tubes and has nothing to do with the mind.   


If I am doing a reading for someone,

a card reading

and I were to think that they are going to die, I would never tell them that.   There is the nocebo effect.  Joseph Murphy wrote about a kinsman that died because of the death prediction of a reader.  


Doctors, just because they wear a lab jacket, are no less likely to initiate the nocebo effect.  Maybe because they wear a lab jacket, they are more likely to initiate the nocebo effect.  The effect may not be to death, but it could be to the extension of the problem before health returns.  Emil Coue as talked about elsewhere proved this.  


Here is a good thing to say and it is true.  “There is no disease or problem that has not had cases of remission or healing.  There is no reason that that can not be you.  Here are some options for you to deal with this issue.”  This tends to initiate the placebo effect.  That is certainly better than something like this problem its terminal or you will have this problem for the rest of your life.   

The mind is more powerful in the realm of health and illness than we would normally think.  


If the mind can be proactively engaged in the positive placebo effect, the old saying is true.  The mind is a terrible thing to waste.  


If the mind can kill you, it can heal you.


It is well known that in drug testing a control group is given placebo medicine that has no medicinal effect.  

 placebo cure

But the patients think that they MIGHT have the real drug.  The standard placebo effect in this situation is noted to appear in 33% of the subjects.  And remember that this is in a situation that they only think they MIGHT have the true drug.  Just thinking they might heal works 33% of the time.


If the patient is lead to believe that the treatment is a real curative, no maybes, what would that percentage be?  As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.


On one level this is what Emil Coue was doing when he talked up the medicine that he had prepared for the patient.  He super energized mediocre drug treatments of the early 1900’s.  He was engaging the mind and the placebo effect.  He was doing an add on placebo therapy.


Alway be encouraging about the problem when you are talking to the patient or yourself.  


As a preacher, I was often doing hospital visits. Often I heard this about my visits, but this is one that stands out in my mind.  The patient had been diagnosed with a very serious cancer.  I did not go in to put a nocebo blanket on the treatment that he was doing, even though I would have chosen other options.  


The man was very down, and his wife was on the verge of tears.  I did all the standard preacher things like have prayer.  But I gave placebo therapy.  


I started talking about how strong he was and about how with God’s help he would walk past this.  I talked in detail about several people who had beaten the doctor’s prediction.  I reminded him that the doctors do not know everything.  And that God knows more than the doctors.  [Which is true.]  I watched as he pirked up in hope and his wife started to smile.  


The Bible says in hope [desire plus expectation] are you saved.  I told him that I had engaged him to prove the doctors wrong.  And I was not going to dismiss him or accept his resignation.  “You are the right man for this job.”


This man contracted the doctors and walked away from the cancer despite treatments that the doctors gave him as a last ditch effort.   They had said that the drugs would not work, but they would try.  Maybe they did not work.  He later told me that every time he started to get down he wife would remind him what  Bro. Bill said.  He was getting placebo therapy, if not from the medical staff, from his wife.  


Placebo therapy is too simple to be true, but it is.


I have a medical friend who tells me that placebo is unethical.  It is not scientific.  I ask him if there was such a thing as love and could he find it in a test tube.  I asked him if I was unethical for using the placebo therapy in a situation I had.  


After getting my breakfast taco at the Mexican resturant  a daddy and his little girl, kindergarten age, were behind me at the cashier.  Noticing that the little angel had a bad cough, I said, “That is a bad cough.”  


The father told me that they had been to the doctors many times for the morning only cough, and they could find nothing wrong with her.  But every morning she coughed.  The big eyed angel look up at me, and I knew I needed to do something.


I told her that there was a magic spot in her hand and if she pressed it that the cough would stop.  As she pressed for some reason she stopped coughing for a little bit.  I said, “See it is already working.”  She stopped coughing and did not any more as they left.  I told her that in the mornings if she started to cough just press that magic place.


I did not think too much about this.  Two week later I was eating at the same cafe and a man walked up to me and thanked me.  I asked what for.  He reminded my of the little girl; it was her father.  He told me that she had been coughing for almost a year.  However now that I had showed her that magic place, she has not coughed.   I smiled and said, “You are welcome.”  


I did not tell the man that I had made it up.  It was pure placebo therapy.  


How many mothers have put a bandage on a hurt place that was not cut open and the child stopped hurting.?  Placebo therapy.


These are just a few examples of placebo therapy.  
Placebo therapy is too simple too be true, but it is.

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