Saturday, October 5, 2013

Healthier Inner Dialogue - Nocebo

Okay friends, I just read about something that has totally blown me away.  You have heard of the placebo effect, right -- where there is a positive or healing response to a treatment that is inert (paraphrased from Wikipedia). For example, a person's headache or gout or cancer might disappear after taking only a sugar pill.  Well, I just read all about the NOCEBO effect.

As you probably can gather, it is the opposite, where a negative result happens in response to an inert treatment.  Both of these effects are apparently based on the psychogenic results of positive or negative thinking. So the type of outcome that a patient expects (positive or negative) becomes more likely to actually happen because of the particular mindset.

How scary and awesome is that?!

"This concept that what occurs in our mind and perception may affect the ultimate outcome should also be taken into consideration for everyday life and interactions with other people." Julie Chen, M.D.

Now she is talking in this article about medical outcomes and how she has changed her techniques for sharing less than stellar information with patients, but I'm sure you can see how this would work in other life areas.  For instance, if you are always letting your internal critic loose with free reign to blabber on and on about this fault or that flaw that you have, maybe that is much worse for you than you think.

"According to a recent article in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the actual difference between optimists and pessimists just might amount to about 12 years of life." Barry Bittman, M.D.

Holy crap, that's serious stuff.  Bittman goes on to say, "Ultimately, it's not the stress that kills us. Rather, it's our perception of stress that makes the difference."

Learning about this nocebo effect has scared me enough to try to change around my pessimistic approach to life.  Pop on back tomorrow and I will share one particularly effective way of turning around these negative thoughts.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Or somewhere in between?


Tina Bradley said...

Great stuff, here, Terry! I am excited to read more about this concept (which I adore, BTW!). I think I'm an optimist (these days). There's definitely something to the "mind over matter" theory (if you don't mind, it won't matter). :) T.

Mindy said...

I completely agree with this concept. And I LOVE the quote from the first comment, "If you don't mind, it won't matter." That's sorta genius.