Today I want to talk a little bit about the effect that a positive attitude towards a terminal condition can have and also that of a negative one.
I’m sure you are all aware of a technique called the ‘Placebo Effect’ which is often used when testing new drugs. One group of patients are given the ‘real’ drug and the others a ‘fake’ sugar pill instead. In all other aspects, both groups would be treated the same, none knowing which group they are in.
Now the purpose of this method of testing is that it enables the effects of the drug to be clearly seen. Well at least that is what we are led to believe. In fact the real truth is that research has indicated that around one third of those who took the ‘fake’ pill actually improved just as well as those who took the ‘real’ pill. To further blur the horizon, some of those who took the ‘real’ pill actually got worse.
The ‘Placebo Effect’ is the belief that if you are taking some treatment that you believe is genuine then you will get better, even if the treatment you are taking is false.
Back hundreds of years ago in medical history, some of the treatments were quite notorious, such as bloodletting, treating wounds with arsenic and even the proverbial cure-all ‘rattlesnake’ oil.
No doubt some patients, the conservatively estimated one third of the population who are particularly susceptible to the healing power of the placebo effect, got better with these treatments. Nowadays we know that there is real no medical or scientific evidence to suggest they would do any good whatsoever.
Research carried out by Dr. Bruce Moseley in 2002 demonstrated the same concept but with surgical procedures with people with severe and debilitating knee pain. He tested three groups, two using conventional surgery techniques and the third group went through the surgical process in every respect but Dr Moseley did not actually do any more than cut open the knee and stitch it back after waiting 45 minutes. He even talked through the operations as he would normally do, just in case there was some physiological link between the patient and the operation.
The results were amazing, the two groups who had received the proper surgery, as expected, improved. But the placebo group improved just as much as the other two groups. The placebo group were only told about their fake surgery two years later. Long term there has been no difference in any of the three groups. Dr Moseley actually said after this experiment “My skill as a surgeon has no benefit on these patients. The entire benefit of surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee was the placebo effect”.
So from this we can gather that the ‘placebo effect’ does work on a large number of people.
But there is also something now called the ‘Nocebo Effect’.
This is exactly the same process except based upon ‘not believing’ and being fed negative information. Bruce Lipton in his book ‘The Biology of Belief’ states “In medicine, the nocebo effect can be as powerful as the placebo effect, a fact you should keep in mind every time you step into your doctor’s office. By their words and their demeanours, doctors can convey hope-deflating messages to their patients, messages that are, I believe, quite unwarranted”.
He later talks about the sad fact that a majority of people who are given a terminal prognosis and told that they have only six months to live, almost invariably die within a short period of time.
Over the last few weeks I have read a number of associated books on this subject and am amazed at the information that I have absorbed.
The importance of being positive about surviving a terminal (or other) condition is absolutely critical. Just saying positive things does not appear to work unless you actually believe it, although it helps.
Doing things which are physical such as exercise, changing your diet, taking alternative treatments, body massages, yoga etc. as well as doing some positive thinking exercises will all assist in the process. Add to that the power of working with a specialist in the whole area of ‘mind over matter’ and you are destined to live for a long time.
Now, looking back upon my diagnosed, although I thought I believed what I was told it soon became clear to me that this was all about statistics, finance and the consultant inability and lack of skill in being able to cure my illness.
That glimmer of hope was just enough. I needed to find out more and so I have, resulting in a very positive attitude, a body that I believe in on the mend and a future which I have already pledged to spend encouraging and helping other people who find themselves in the same temporary position as I was.
Well I will stop know, but I hope that I have left you with a few things to think over. Your life may not be the healthiest that it could be, but when something as profound as a terminal prognosis is given you have two choices – either accept it (and die) or reject it, change your life and live until nature takes you eventually.
Enjoy your week …
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