The Placebo Effect
If you give sugar pills to a group of patients and tell them that these pills are going to cure them, some of them will actually get better. This is known in the medical world as the placebo effect. Every doctor, nurse and medical student knows about it, but no-one has been able to explain it.
To put it simply, the placebo effect means that if you believe a certain treatment will work for you, it usually does.
Let me give you an example.
Forty years ago, a young heart surgeon from Seattle by the name of Leonard Cobb conducted an unusual experiment. He performed a number of fake surgeries on patients suffering from angina. Instead of performing real surgeries, he just made the incision and then stitched it back together. He didn’t actually do anything that could offer any kind of cure, but surprisingly, 90% of the patients reported that the procedure helped. The sham operations proved to be just as effective as the real ones.
Isn’t that amazing? The patients were not cured by the surgeries – they were cured by their belief in the surgery. Here are a some more examples:
- In one study, doctors eliminated warts by using the power of belief. They painted them with ordinary red dye and told the patients that when the color wears off, the warts will disappear.
- In a study of asthmatics, researchers found that they could produce dilation of the airways by telling people they were inhaling bronchodilators, even when they weren’t.
- With the use of the brain imagery techniques, doctors were able to show that thoughts and beliefs can actually cause the body to undergo actual biological changes.
The fact is, that if we truly believe in something, we have the ability to cure (or even hurt) ourselves. This is a well known fact in today’s medicine. Herbert Benson from Harvard University showed that the placebo effect works in as much as 60-90% of diseases, including angina pectoris, bronchial asthma, herpes simplex, and duodenal ulcers.
The Law of Attraction
On the other hand, the currently popular law of attraction claims that if you truly believe into something, you can ‘attract’ it into your life. Make it your reality through the power of belief. So if you truly believe that a certain treatment will make you better, the law of attraction states that it will.
Apparently, when it comes to our own bodies, the law of attraction is nothing more than some version of the placebo effect. In fact, some people would go as far as to claim that the placebo effect itself is a definite proof for the effectiveness of the law of attraction. While this is, in my opinion, taking it a bit too far, it is interesting to note that the law of attraction does in fact, at least partially, work.
Using These Principles
Both the placebo effect and the law of attraction could and probably should be used in medicine. Countless clinical studies have shown the effectiveness of the placebo effect and just dismissing it because it’s not a ‘real’ medicine would be wrong. There is however one problem.
If a patient knows that all he’s getting is a sugary pill, there is no easy way for him to convince himself that the treatment will actually work. Consequently, the treatment will inevitably fail. If, on the other hand, we decide to lie to the patient and tell him that what he’s getting is the actual cure, we are facing a major ethical dilemma (not to mention a lawsuit).
Because of this problem, the placebo effect and the law of attraction are currently not being used in any conventional medicine. What could possibly be the most versatile of all cures – the ultimate ‘magic pill’ – is being ignored since none of us has managed to figure out how to use it. We can only hope that the current enthusiasm surrounding the law of attraction will bring us some new insight and possibly show us a different approach to harnessing this powerful principle.