The Strange Placebo Effect
By James Donahue
Among the mysteries linked to the human mind is the healing effect placebos can have on
A placebo is a pill, or a form of imitation medicine that appears to be medicine, but is
really some sugar or other harmless substance packaged to look like medicine. When given to patients in test trials, after
the patient is told that the pill is a pain killer, most people who receive the placebo experience relief within minutes.
The natural response to this effect is to say that the response it all in the mind. When
the patient believes the pill will ease the pain, it happens. While the experiment shows that the fake medicine has no effect
on the pain, the belief by the patient that there will be pain relief often brings real relief.
But studies of this effect appears to have an even deeper significance. Those of us who
have dabbled in the occult understand the power of the mind. We believe that people possess the capability of healing themselves
of nearly every illness known to man if we understand the way our mind works and learn to harness the powers within.
Students of the late Robert Monroe, who founded the Monroe Institute at Faber, Virginia,
and assembled a team of scientists to explore the power of right-brain functioning, know that certain sound frequencies can
put people into a certain mental state where they can actually use the mind to heal their own bodies and improve personal
When we visit a physician and seek treatment for an illness or a broken bone, we are, in
effect, turning to a crutch created by the society in which we live, to help us do what we already have the capability of
doing for ourselves.
It has been discovered that a person's confidence in the physician he or she chooses, and
a personal belief in the effectiveness of the treatment prescribed by that doctor, can have a significant biochemical effect
that leads to an effective cure. While the power of the mind cannot reset broken bones, or handle physical damage to the body
caused by gunshot, knife or falls, it can assist in the healing process once the initial stages of treatment are completed.
There is another school of thought about the so-called placebo effect. This is a theory
that the effect is simply that of mind over behavior. Sociologists argue that all behavior is learned, thus when we are ill,
or hurt, we react with a certain amount of role play. Thus the placebo effect may be a measurement of changed behavior caused
by a belief in the treatment. If there is a change in attitude, it also may affect body chemistry, thus causing to actually
Studies in the effectiveness of placebos have generated some interesting results. Some
doctors have ever performed faked surgeries that brought positive results. In yet another study, a doctor successfully eliminated
warts by painting them with a bright colored dye and telling the patient that the warts would be gone when the color wore
off. In a study of asthmatic patients, researchers found they could produce a dilation of the airways by using a placebo bronchiodilator.
A few years ago, when living in a rented cottage in Sedona, Arizona, my wife and I noticed
that our landlord, a guy named Bob, was making a good living as a "healer" using a machine that buzzed and cast a small ray
of light out of one end. He had some fancy name for the treatment. A lot of people were paying him good money to have him
turn his buzzing machine on and point the light at the part of their body that ailed them. Everybody swore by his treatments,
saying they were really getting healed. One day, however, when I had an opportunity to examine that machine up close, with
nobody around, I saw that it was just a plastic device with a vibrator and light bulb installed within.
It all boils down to the fact that a person's personal beliefs and hopes about a treatment,
combined with their suggestibility, seems to have a significant biochemical effect. If they truly believe a treatment is going
to work, the odds are very good that it will.