Are Your Thoughts Making You Sick?

photoThe placebo effect has long been recognized as a real phenomenon. When people believe that they are receiving something that is going to help them, it often helps them, even if what they receive is a sugar pill. This complicates drug trials because in order to show that a new drug is beneficial, drug companies have to be able to prove not only that the test subjects did better, they need to prove that the test subjects did better than people receiving sugar pills.

This effect goes way beyond sugar pills in scientific studies. Mondloch (2001) examined several studies about the placebo effect and found that under very different situations, positive expectations regarding medical procedures were associated with better health outcomes.

It turns out that the opposite is true as well. The “nocebo” or negative placebo effect was identified as early as 1961. If you think that medication will do you harm you are more likely to experience negative symptoms, even if it is a sugar pill (Barksky, 2002). If you believe that your treatment won’t work, you may be hindering the results.

In addition to this, Messina, et al, (2010) were able to show that skeptical people and those that harboured a generalized dislike, distrust, or hatred of other people did not do as well during cancer treatment. This effect was more pronounced than changing the types of medications that the individuals were given to treat the cancer.

So, if what we believe, our attitude and how we treat other people can have a positive or negative impact on our health, isn’t it time to pay attention to what we are telling ourselves about our lives?



This book follows “North Star” by Martha Beck. It goes deeper and further examines our connection with ourselves.


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