PLACEBO EFFECT and AUTOSUGGESTION - how the mind affects the body

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This article is an excerpt from my course "PsychoNeuroRegulation - how through the mind affect the health"


The power of mind. Placebo effect and autosuggestion The word 'placebo' means 'I shall please'. It describes a substance that has no pharmacological value.

Placebo it is objectively neutral to the organism. However, it often causes a positive reaction in form of alleviation or complete healing of a disease.
The cause of such a reaction is said to lie in the influence of a particular emotional state on the human physiology.

Read more about PsychoNeuroImmunology - mind and science

Among the numerous studies on the interactions between the body and mind conducted in 1950's there were double blind trials. In such case, both the doctor and the patient are unaware of whether the administered substance has a pharmacological value or not. This eliminates the possibility of suggestion during substance administration.

After his analysis and interpretation of the experiments, Beecher (1959) concluded that many patients felt a significant relief of their suffering as a result of administering sugar pills,which are neutral to the body (they experienced the placebo effect).

The studies of post-operative pain have shown that in 33% of cases placebo can have an analgesic effect similar to morphine (Beecher, 1959). Moreover, it can cause side effects such as hair loss and addiction.

Read about the power of mind - experiments

The essence of the placebo effect is autosuggestion of the patient, and their belief in the effectiveness of the administered drug. The doctor's authority also plays an important role. Even the stress associated with hospitalization can influence the immune system, as the events which cause a strong emotional reaction affect the psyche and therefore the whole body.

Read more about emotions and health

Autosuggestion can be used to support the process of recovery. In his, "Anatomy of an illness as perceived by the patient : reflections on healing ", Norman Cousins describes his experience as a 10-year old child in a sanatorium for patients suffering from tuberculosis.
The children in the sanatorium divided into two groups. The first group believed that they will recover. The percentage of relatively quick recoveries made in this group was high.
Children in the second group didn't fully believe that their health will improve. The number of recoveries made in this group was significantly smaller. Hence, it could be inferred that it is worthwhile to maintain a positive attitude towards one's health.

Read about the power of mind - curious case

If you are interested in the topic of influence of your mind on your health, you might be interested in our online courses:
  • Healing mind or in cheaper versions of the course:
  • The basics of psychoneuroimmunology - how your mind affects your health
  • Mental techniques for health

    Hyppolyte Bernheim was a professor of medicine at the University of Nancy. He claimed that subconsciousness is a bridge between the doctor's suggestion and the patient's body. His professional experience and numerous experiments confirm this view.

    One day, he had an inarticulate patient – a young girl who could not speak. He explained that her disability can be treated by applying an electroshock. He placed an unplugged electrode on her tongue and told her to speak. The girl immediately recovered her ability to speak.

    Another time, he would stick a stamp on patient's arm and inform him that it was adhesive tape. The patient developed a blister in the place where the stamp was.

    On the other hand, Dr M. Bourru conducted a following experiment:he hypnotized a young man, suggesting that he will come to his office at 4pm, sit down in front of his desk, cross his arms and start bleeding from his nose. Everything then happened as the doctor had suggested.

    Another day, he hypnotized a patient, wrote his personal details on his arm and suggested that at 4pm he will fall asleep and drops of blood will appear in places where he felt his touch; which indeed happened.

    Those experiments exemplify the influence of suggestion on human body. It can give both a positive and negative effects. It is important to use it wisely.