Watching a show on the placebo effect on the BBC tonight I realized that the power of the mind to control the chemistry of the body is far more profound than conventional western science would expect. In case after case, the show described studies where patients had profoundly positive results with only placebos and caring treatment from their physician. In some cases, the patients were told they were receiving placebos and yet they still experienced positive results.
The show described one study where a surgeon studied the results of conducting a placebo procedure instead of a very effective surgical treatment. In one of the cases presented, the patient had received the actual procedure for a previous injury so she knew what the real procedure felt like and yet she had positive results from the placebo procedure.
The show went on to explore the practice of medical hypnosis and studies that focused on the impact of positive suggestions from the physician in the case where all patients received placebo acupuncture. It became clear that the operative factor was the caring attention and confidence of the physician.
I have studied meditation and the western mystery tradition. I believe that the effectiveness of these so called magical traditions are closely akin to that of the placebo effect and the key thing to understand here is that the placebo effect is real. The results, while not universal or in all cases permanent, are verifiable with conventional, repeatable scientific studies. This indicates to me that we have only studied the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the power of the mind over matter, in particular the body.
Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.