You Are The Placebo2
Positive Personal Placebos
October 12, 2015
Medical Doctors treat some illnesses by prescribing medications. These medications have been studied, and found to work better, compared to a Placebo. Sugar Pills are often used in most studies as Placebos, due to ease in compounding and swallowing, however, they are not recommended in Diabetes research.
A Placebo is a benign substance, disguised as a treatment, used to determine how effective the real ‘treatment’ actually is.
For a medication to be approved, by Health Canada, it must demonstrate several attractive features. It has to have a ‘reasonable level’ of side effects, and if fatalities occur, they must be the result of an underlying condition, not the medication, per se. The proposed ‘treatment’ has to show a beneficial and predictable effect, and usually improve the course in some way.
This specific amount of ‘beneficial effect’ is measured, and then compared to a group of people with the same illness, who were given a Placebo instead. Researchers then use statistics to compare how well a real treatment did, compared to the Placebo.
In some studies, the Placebo Effect can be high, due to many factors. If this happens, the treatment has to show an even bigger positive effect, which is often the case, when looking at Antidepressant Medications.
Cool Things About The Placebo Effect
1. It demonstrates an example of Mind over Matter.
Entrainment has been demonstrated to control our Brain Wave Frequencies, using multiple sensory modalities, the most studied being Sound and Light.
Binaural Tones are able to hypnotize your entire Brain, and pretty soon, all your neurons are marching to the prescribed Beats.
This gives the lyric ‘Rhythm is gonna get you’, a whole new meaning.
It is very possible, that the Placebo Effect is a form of Entrainment, or Self Hypnosis. What the Mind interprets as REAL, becomes REALITY to the Brain.
2. Another cool thing is the idea that scientific studies do not necessarily need to be confined to a physical laboratory. Your skull currently protects the most amazing thing in the World.
(Sanjaya and Mr. Trump, if either of you are reading this, I am not referring to your unbelievable hair)
I am referring to the inside of your skull, where the most sophisticated lab in the known Universe resides.
3. Our Mind-Brain interaction is like a Holodeck AND 3-D Printer, capable of simultaneously imagining and creating.
Your brain has the ability to perform THOUGHT EXPERIMENTS on yourself, at any given moment. Whatever thought you choose has a specific benefit and side effect.
Unlike a Placebo, however, there is no such thing as a ‘fake thought’, unless you are a crooked politician, sociopath, or spy.
The idea of a ‘Thought Placebo’, reveals the true nature of the Placebo itself. It becomes apparent that the very word Placebo is just another way of saying ‘thought’.
‘They thought they received the treatment, and got better, even though they actually got the Placebo’.
4. My logic leads me to believe that a ‘Placebo’, is just another word for a POWERFUL THOUGHT, your mind (Prefrontal Cortex) tells your Brain (Brainstem), to the point that the body becomes convinced.
I have known people with a fear of flying, who travel with Lorazepam.
Many do not need to take this relaxant while in the plane, in the air, because they feel reassured they COULD take it, if they REALLY needed to.
Once they suggest the thought to themselves that it is readily available, their mind forces the Brain to ingest a reassuring and relaxing thought.
This Mental reassurance lessens the Physical anxiety.
The person’s body then instantly feels a wave of relief and the anxiety is treated, almost as if they took a ‘chill pill’ itself.
Most people don’t realize that their phobia has been cured, until discovering they switched medicine bags, and inadvertently haven’t been carrying the ‘little helper’ for several months, or many trips.
5. Each experience that we attach a positive thought to, acts like a little medicine, that slowly dissolves throughout your brain, triggering good feelings, and better decision making in everyday life.
These Positive Personal Placebos can come in many forms, are free of charge, but full of powerful change. It is now a scientific fact that the quantity, and quality of your own thoughts, has a significant impact on how your brain continually reshapes itself, and how well it functions.
There are many examples of how specific thought patterns and experiences actively change the size and function of various parts of the brain. Such examples include Meditation, Trauma, Music, OCD, Memorizing, and Dementia. For more details, please see the upcoming essay ‘How Specific Thought Patterns and Experiences Actively Change the Size and Function of Various Parts of the Brain’, in a future Blog I just now decided to write.
You are already giving yourself Placebos at most moments in your current existence. You are actively interpreting your reality, as you experience it. And what you decide to tell yourself makes all the difference in the world, because your thoughts are the reality of your Universe.
We all have choices, as to which kind of Placebo to take, and if we are not careful, we can take ones that make us feel good in the moment, but create long term side effects.
Addictive behaviour can be okay, if it is related to reasonably healthy things, like exercising, a daily glass of wine, or binge watching Game Of Thrones.
6. Doing Meth, like you are watching the Play At Home Version, of Breaking Bad, is not a great Long Term Personal Placebo.
In the next essay, I will further discuss the concept of Good and Bad Personal Placebos, with specific and entertaining examples.
Simon Trepel, MD
Simon Trepel, MD FRCPC, is a practicing Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, in Winnipeg, Canada. He is an Assistant Professor, at the University Of Manitoba, in the Faculty of Medicine, and the Co-founder of the GDAAY Clinic. He is, more importantly, the proud Father of 2 beautiful Daughters. He writes in his spare time about things he knows something about, and occasionally about things he doesn’t; like Yoga, and Italian flavored coffees. He is addicted to his own Personal Placebos.
Check out his Blog, called Simon Says Psych Stuff, at