Psychological Placebo

Most people have heard of the placebo effect. It has been used as a treatment for centuries and is an unusual phenomenon.

The definition is: a beneficial effect produced by a placebo drug or treatment, which cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must, therefore, be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment.

Essentially, someone is treated in some form or another, possibly with a sugar pill or ritual of some kind, believing this has healing properties. Despite neither the sugar pills nor any rituals having any scientific basis in relation to recovery, the patients miraculously heal in many cases. Why?

The placebo effect demonstrates just how powerful the mind is, being able to heal patients and reduce symptoms simply through the belief they have in the treatment.

The question is, could the same idea apply to your behaviour and psychology?

I believe placebos can have a similar effect on an individual’s behaviour through what I refer to as a ‘psychological placebo’. Unlike an actual pill or treatment placebo, a psychological placebo involves thought manipulation in order to create different states of mind, which in turn alter behaviour. This idea is based heavily on neuroplasticity and our belief system.

Let’s say you decide to read a book written by a self-help guru, who has apparently discovered a new way of thinking and a mental practice that will completely change your confidence in a short time. You read the book and complete the short course, eventually noticing that your confidence has improved dramatically. You no longer feel awkward or self-conscious when speaking to a large audience, you also become more outgoing and extroverted. A year later, you hear about this particular self-help guru, the one who wrote the book, having a complete mental breakdown. During an interview, he is asked about the life-changing technique he created. He tells the journalist, ‘I made the whole thing up, just to make some money. The confidence-boosting secrets were all just a lie and are based on nothing other than my imagination.’ What would you think?

Would you think, it was all a sham and fake, and immediately revert to your former less-confident self, or would you realise that whether it was a sham or not, the information and process changed you for the better?

Ever heard of Braco ‘the Gazer’? Braco is a Croatian-born faith healer, who has a large following and a great number of people willing to advocate as to how amazing his powers of healing are. And how exactly does he heal people? He simply looks at them, staring deeply, gazing in silence, and on some occasions accompanied by soothing music. Do you believe he heals people simply by staring at them deeply? A lot of people would say that this whole gazing thing is a joke and a con, but what about the people Braco influences in a positive manner during these gazing sessions? Can it be a con if it actually creates a reaction and some kind of tangible result? In my opinion, it is the belief others have in Braco’s powerful gaze that creates an effect, not his gaze itself.

Another extremely common example is of faith healers in church. No matter how many of these situations are staged and fake, there is likely to be at least a few examples in-between, where the faith healing actually worked, and why? Because of the effect of the psychological placebo.

There are many other examples of the psychological placebo effect, but let’s jump to the point of this topic.

If you are able to manipulate and program your mind to believe in something with no doubt or hesitation whatsoever, it is almost certain that it will have an influence on your behaviour and emotion. It is the strength of your belief that determines the extent of the placebo effect. In order to create such a state, you must create a bias, controlled and one-sided environment, where there is little to no evidence available to contradict or cast doubt on the belief being programmed. Learn about and practise anything and everything that tells you that what you are trying to achieve will work, and do not allow doubt to creep in. I sometimes consider the example of my own life and journey. Yes, I have changed significantly and feel like a totally renewed person. The question is, have I actually really changed at all or am I the exact same person simply believing I am better and more empowered than before? If I believe it, then my mind conspires to make it true, just as it would for you.

The power of belief is beyond our present level of understanding