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Positive Thinking / Placebo

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posted on Sep, 11 2007 @ 10:41 AM
I wanted to start a topic to discuss the power of positive thinking and focus on one core aspect - The Placebo Effect.

I've always believed that the mind is a very powerful tool and capable of locking away suppressed memories among numerous other things. Meditation and spirituality all feature greatly and I know many of you here practice such things, so it will be good to see what input you 'experienced' guys can bring to the table.

On with my findings and theories anyway:

Originally, a placebo was a substance that a well-meaning doctor would give to a patient, telling him that it was a powerful drug (e.g., a painkiller), when in fact it was nothing more than a sugar pill. Thus, Hooper's medical dictionary of 1811 says placebo is "an epithet given to any medicine adapted more to please than benefit the patient." The subsequent reduction of the patient's symptoms was attributed to the patient's belief in the drug. (This category, particularly before the first Medicines Act was passed, may merge into fake medicines.)

Medical science is only beginning to understand the ways in which the mind influences the body. The placebo effect, for example, demonstrates that people can at times cause a relief in medical symptoms or suffering by believing the cures to be effective, whether they actually are or not. Using processes only poorly understood, the bodies ability to heal itself is far more amazing than anything modern medicine could create. I've heard this ringing true from a variety of different sources.

One such example I think this applies greatly to is hypnosis. I watched a television show a few months back and it was featuring Paul McKenna. Well, the basics of it were that people would turn up and have consultations with him, trying to cure their phobias and fears. At the end with deep mind probing and constantly chanting over and over certain phrases, they could achieve their goals and conquer their fears. Swimming, heights, depression etc. It spanned many interesting fears. He would touch them in certain areas whilst they had to say and think of the fear. They would then touch this part of the body 'in the fearful' environment and it would help reduce the fear attached to the event. My point is that the mind is very powerful and can keep you fearful of something, or at the same time can be re-programmed to help you conquer obstacles.

Well, you've heard of the placebo effect, in which someone taking a dummy pill feels better. The effect is reaffirmed by research that has been done numerous times over many years. Of course, you only believe what you want to believe.

View past research HERE


It is universally accepted that, for a placebo response to occur, the subject must believe an effective medication (or other treatment) has been administered to them, but must not know it is an ineffective placebo. This is quite different from the case of an "active drug", where the drug response is generated even in the case of covert administration, in other words regardless of whether the patient knows or doesn't know they have received any medication.

People who take their medicine regularly, even if it's a placebo, have a lower risk of death than those who don't, researchers report in this week's issue of the British Medical Journal. In fact, the risk of mortality was about half that of participants with poor adherence.

Healing may lie not in the treatment but rather in patients’ emotional and cognitive processes of “feeling cared for” and “caring for oneself.” Basing treatments on these ideas could yield extra value in treatment regimens that patients agree to, believe in, and will sustain over time.

Do you have any stories or feedback on the power of the mind? Can people here who meditate frequently, see a better health for them?

posted on Sep, 11 2007 @ 01:20 PM
You will hear a lot of references to "The Secret." They will talk about the Law of Attraction. I do not care for this movie, but I appreciate what it attempted to do. But the Law of Attraction is one of 27 laws, and each of the laws has a polar opposite, as in, if you do not engage the law correctly, the opposite of the desired effect is what you will experience.

Now onto my reply. Everyone that is successful has certain qualities. They are confident. They are patient. They do not beat up on themselves if something doesn't work out. They don't struggle throughout their daily lives.

Note, everyone who possesses these qualities are successful in at least one field.

Let me give you some examples of how a positive outlook can change your performance. I do martial arts. Sometimes when practicing, I just cannot get the technique to work. No matter how I try, it just won't work. Now, I used to beat up on myself. If I had problems, I would fall into a long slump, tell myself I'm not good, say I made no progress in all this time, etc.

Once I stopped beating up on myself, and looked at it as "practice" and "moving towards a new level" suddenly, magically, I stopped fighting myself, my slumps would end, and I would start doing better.

Here's another example we can all relate with. A small child stubs his toe. He cries. It hurts. The pain is terrible. Yet if you stub your toe, it still hurts. The pain is exactly the same, the level is the same, but you do not cry, you go about your day. It's not because you're tougher, it's because you're not making a big deal about the injury.

If you make a big deal about the bad things, the problems will become bigger. If you tell yourself an injury will never heal, guess what? It'll haunt you always.

General health is the same. If you keep telling yourself that you're fat, or sick, or old, you will feel just that way. I know people in their teens who creak and nag like old men. They say they're out of their prime.

A great deal of what we experience is in our head. Yes, our actions also play a huge factor, but our minds rule over the flesh. But if we don't use them correctly, or use our minds to use iron shackles to bind us, everything will seem miserable and difficult.

Take the example of the poor man in the starving country. A great day would be a day he and his family had food to eat. For Americans, a great day would generally require a bright sunny day, everyone being courteous at traffic and at work, getting a raise, going home, having the kids be quiet and study. Our favorite songs never cut out on the radio, no one disagrees if you political point of view on the radio, etc.

Again it's a matter of perception. A poor man can still be content, while dirty, cold, and bugbitten. But for others, being sweaty or dirty would make the day horrible.

It's up to you how you take everything that occurs in life. You can either be a victim or life, or a liver of life. You can either be happy now, or, you can wait until college is paid off, and the bills are paid, and till you get a good job, find a good spouse, etc... If you're waiting for happiness, it will never come. If you're waiting for fulfillment, it will never come. The future is always set at a time that does not exist. All we can experience is the present.

How much of our thoughts are greivances of the past, or worries about the future?

I do a lot of meditation, I practice qigong, do inner vision work, etc. These practices can open you up to new experiences and help you get more enjoyment out of life. I've discovered how to enjoy my day, and how to experience in the future that which is appealing to me. Everyday I work to climb another step of the ladder, and increase my understanding.

It is truely wonderful to stop fighting myself. If you're looking for external stimulus, you may get momentary satisfaction, but if you have the wrong mood, you won't even be able to enjoy your favorite things. However, if you learn to foster happiness within yourself, you'll be able to efind enjoyment in anything you do.

Health is the same. Yes, eating natural foods, being active, this will help balance your body out so that it performs at a high level. However, your mental outlook will also determine what you experience. This is your self-image. Do you think of yourself as weak, slow, sick, old, poor? Do you see yourself as a victim, or the star of your own show? If you're not the star, I have to ask "why not?"

Everything is made up of energy. Mind determines what form this energy will take. Desire drives the mind to guide the energy to take a form. If your desire matches your mental pictures, you'll start to experience a different life.

posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 05:32 AM
Thanks for your long and detailed reply. I'm a very spiritual person but unfortunately do not meditate. I would like to start up as I feel becoming one with the soul, mind and body etc would greatly benefit all of mankind, let alone just myself. I feel that over the hundreds of years, human nature has lost part of it's spiritual brain. Can we re-train ourselves? I don't see why not!

Check this BBC news article 2 years ago.

Few snippets:

US experts say they have strong scientific proof that mind over matter works for relieving pain. Positive thinking was as powerful as a shot of morphine for relieving pain and reduced activity in parts of the brain that process pain information.

The Wake Forest University researchers say their findings show that by merely expecting pain to be less it will be less. Their work is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr Robert Coghill and his team studied 10 normal, healthy volunteers who had a heat simulator applied to their legs while their brains were being scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

The heat simulator was used to produce pain and fMRI was used to map brain activity....

I truly believe that the brain can make a huge difference on pain and treatment of diseases and illnesses. I have to say, even though I believe people are blessed with gifts that some healers around the World in South America and other places just say what the patient wants to hear, and that triggers positive thoughts that they will get better so they often do, regardless of spirituality effects. If you strongly believe something, chances are you will become full of positivity and that can only be a good thing.

Here's another test/research

Also with a few snippets:

American researchers from the Department on Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale University, conducted a study to determine how positive self-perceptions on getting older affected individuals health.

The study was made up of 660 participants aged 50 and older who took part in a community-based study. The researchers found that individuals who had a positive outlook towards ageing lived up to 7.5 years longer than those who begrudged getting older.

The participants had responded to a survey 23 years earlier. Even after factors such as age, gender, socioeconomic status, loneliness and health were taken into account, the longevity benefit remained. Positive self-perception also had an effect on individual’s will to live.

Imagine how many experiences you could have in seven years. That’s nearly a decade added to your life just by having a positive attitude.

Thanks for the feedback and input to my thread. Positive thinking guys! Who needs doctors?!

posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 10:57 AM
To comment further on this, let's take a look at two cultures. The West, particularly the US, and the East, particularly China.

In the US, as soon as we hit 30, we're starting to go down hill. The body is creaking, we're getting older, and uglier, we start to feels the pains of growing old.

In China, once a person retires, they tend to start hard physical training, and enjoy life.

In the US, many people give up on most physical activities early on, saying they're too old.

In China, physical activity is not limited to the young.

Our elderly inch painfully around going on brief walks, or roam slowly about the home.

In China the elderly start and engage in rather rigorous and difficult exercises that many of our young athletes would have a hard time emulating with training specifically to do it. Look up Chen Style Tai Chi, for example. It's not slow, the movement is dynamic and challenging.

In the US, overweight 40 year olds in power chairs aren't uncommon. In China, 80 year olds doing straddles and engaging in gymnastic type exercises aren't uncommon.

There clearly must be something to this. I'm sure diet and types of exercise have a lot to do with it. But think of the Western viewpoint. 30 is old. 40 is ancient. 50? Why go on! The "golden years" are miserable as each month go by, another activity is crossed off the list.

However in the East it is not uncommon to START extensive exercise in your 50's or 60's. It's not too late to enjoy life. I've had several friends go to China and remark how the elderly are darting about at high speeds.

Now tell me, as you age, do you want to consider going to the bathroom your daily exercise, and still not make it, OR do you wnat to be jumping and leaping around, full of energy and life?

Do you want to be unable to bend over and touch your shins, or do you want to do a full straddle, place your chest on the floor and laugh at the youngsters saying "This should be easy for a lad your age!"

Let me change the direction of the conversation a bit. If a man walks into a Doctor's office, lists his complaints/diseases, and hears "there's nothing I can do for you." Imagine how that feels! Now imagine the same person walks into a Doctor's office, lists his complaints and hears "Wow, you sure are healthy! If I had that many ailments I wouldn't be able to go on! You sure are strong!" how would that make you feel? A lot better, right? Who do you think is more likely to recover, simply from the way the Doctor talked to him?

I'm sure no one wants to think that the East has better medicine than the West, but surely, their outlook on health and life is superior! I'm sure the outlook, and thoughts on age makes a huge difference.

There's a lot to be said about going to a Doctor that can give you hope. You can either wait for Death, or enjoy Life! It's all perspective.

If in your life, you're looking forward to being happy one day, or even worse, looking forward to some afterlife paradise when things are finally ok, you've wasted your whole life. You haven't truely lived once. There's no use waiting. If you leave it up to a Doctor to make you healthy, or a teacher to make you smart, or a Relationship to make you happy, you'r elooking in all the wrong places. Only you can do those things for yourself, the external stimulus is a bonus, it helps, but it's not the whole picture.

People beat cancer. But who survives? The person who says they're going to die, or the person who says they're going to beat it? While not everyone who wants to beat it will, not one person who expects to die will survive.

posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 11:09 AM
Not to open a can of worms or anything, but have any of you seen the movies "What the Bleep Do We Know?"

Parts of the films are a bit too much for some folks, but the sections on positive thinking are amazing.

From a simple chemical-addictiveness point of view, your body becomes addicted, in the most literal sense of the word, to the peptides and chemicals produced in the hypothalamus section of the brain. These are extremely poweful, potent chemicals that your cells, all of your cells, anxiously await to receive in their receptor sites.

The more often your cells receive negative chemicals in their receptors, the harder it is for positive chemivals, produced in your hypothalamus, to enter the receptor cites of cells.

Therefore, you become addicted to being negative. If you constantly beat yourself up, say you're fat, etc, the body basically allows itself to BECOME that very image, to facilitate receiving the negative chemicals, which you're addicted to.

Positive thinking and positive self-image are very powerful.

posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 11:11 AM
I was just randomly browsing thru the site and I came across your post, Swordsman...

If the old ATS way above system still existed, you would have had my vote hands down...All I can offer is a measly star

Anywho...Your post with its references to healing thyself before one sets out to heal others struck a major chord with me...

And i truly thank you for that


posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 11:46 AM

Originally posted by MarkusMaximus
Not to open a can of worms or anything, but have any of you seen the movies "What the Bleep Do We Know?"

I've heard a lot of good things about "What the Bleep do we know?" However I haven't seen it. Based off of what I've heard, it souds like it explains the same things I do, however they use a scientific point of view, and break it down using chemicals and textbook terms.

I personally would rather approach the whole thing from a spiritual angle, as opposed to scientific. I try and express things that cannot be proven. However, I am very happy that someone took the time to try and express these same concepts using a lab, and things that can be proven.

posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 11:49 AM

Originally posted by Rilence
I was just randomly browsing thru the site and I came across your post, Swordsman...

If the old ATS way above system still existed, you would have had my vote hands down...All I can offer is a measly star

Anywho...Your post with its references to healing thyself before one sets out to heal others struck a major chord with me...

And i truly thank you for that



Thanks for the support! I love it when the things I say impact others in a positive way. If you're interested in this type of thing, browse my threads, I talk along these same lines often.

Take care!

posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 11:59 AM
reply to post by MarkusMaximus

Yes Markus I have seen 'what the bleep do we know.' It gets mixed reviews from a wide variety of people, but it still makes you think about things, and I for one feel all warm and content inside after watching it. It does bend the rules of science and not all things are accurate, but it achieves the thing it was meant to do I believe, and that's to get across positive ideas and thoughts on how we can shape our own lives and futures.

If any of you wish to watch this documentary, the entire 10 parts are uploaded on Youtube so feel free to watch. Keep an open mind though.

We are constantly releasing chemicals into the bloodstream that attach themselves to cells, which enable us to feel certain emotions. The brain becomes hardwired to experience certain thoughts when we observe certain people, situations etc, based on past experiences (which activates chemical release). Just as you mentioned Marcus. It takes a strong act of character to change these emotions, but has been proven to increase longevity so why should we not try?

Take it with a pinch of salt, but good you brought it up for debate Marcus. I felt really motivated after watching it. It gave me a lovely warm feeling about my personality and progress I could take in life. But I also know that it misses the points in places a fair bit too.

I truly believe that somewhere along the line we have lost part of our spirituality, and with the amount of wars and lack of consideration for human lives taking place daily it really looks like caring for people and helping yourself progress to a better and brighter future, looks very bleak. I really am wanting to learn meditation and would like any advice. (Maybe greyswordsman you could give me advice or links?)

If you're at one with your mind and body, everything seems to slot into place. If one is at war with the other, like how you perceive yourself (in a negative way) when others think you're beautiful etc, then you're only going to keep going round in circles.

Try and change that mind set, and focus on a healthier, brighter future.

posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 12:04 PM
I also recommend watching the movie The New Biology by Bruce Lipton. He proves exactly what the OP said happens physically in your body.

I also have a thread on the topic here.

posted on May, 13 2010 @ 12:32 PM
First of all, I was wondering whether post a reply in this thread or not, since it's almost 2,5yo. I've looked around, however, for any threads related to one's way of thinking, loneliness, outlooks in general, and couldn't find any more suitable place for what I have to say. So, I read your posts thoroughly, Swordsman, and can't not agree that positive thinking makes a huge impact on one's health, feelings and so on. What else I have to say, though, is that even though sometimes a person knows their way of thinking makes them go down, it turns out to be really difficult to get on a different track. Perhaps it's related to these chemicals which were also mentioned here. And if the secretion of these chemicals stems from one's environment, surroundings and the specific situation they are in, let me tell something about how I think these factors could've affected me:

To start with, I'm a 22yo, disabled, gay student of English suffering from Cerebral Palsy (just as mentioned in my greeting thread not everyone had to come across). For the biggest part of my life I was actually a well-mooded, happy, smiley guy. Although one accident which took place in front of my block of flats during which I hit my head against the pavement and lost eagerness for going out since then, I had actually no trouble with talking to and getting along with people. Since the aforementioned accident I lost the eagerness for going out not only for fear that anything bad could happen again, but also because I just felt certain that I can't share too many things with other, fully healthy people. As far as I can remember, I stopped going out when about 12 and actually felt content with spending most of the time at home, on my own. All this contentment of the situation lasted a good couple of years, meaning some time until I turned 18. It would take quite long to tell all the things I started experiencing at that time, so let me briefly tell you that I experienced some anxiety fits, floods of intrusive thoughts and, after doing some research on the Internet after 1 year of suffering, I self-diagnosed myself having OCD. Now I'm not sure if what I had (or still have) was indeed OCD, since I've never been diagnosed by a doctor, but that's not the main thing I mean here. The thing I mean is that, after numerous reconsiderations of what could've caused my experiences, I've come to a point at which I started to think that perhaps it is the loneliness and longing for many things that I've never experienced which finally poured out of me. All these longings within me could be said to stem from, what Swordman called, "not having lived truly once". I literally feel this way, just as if I've never experienced all these natural things like having true friends, going out with them, being with someone you feel you fell in love with, just taking whatever good in this life.

While considering the way of thinking and emotions within me, I often think that there is no reason for my further education and any struggling if I'm going to have problems with finding any guy for, perhaps, my entire life. I often feel this sense of emptiness and great despondence, since never bing close to another guy and experiencing tenderness or intimacy with one. Even though I've frequently heard the opposite, I think of myself as dumb and, since living in this almost all-around-the-clock monotony, I have the fits of thought that maybe life isn't so much worth living for and that I should kill myself to spare myself everything that I'm undergoing. There are times at which, though I know it's not true, I think that people around me are dishonest with me and think that it would be, perhaps, better if I indeed ended up with myself. I sometimes get even angry at the very learning and at whatever I have to do, since it only emphasizes my monotonous life in a way.

I'm just wondering if this deep loneliness and so on could've warped my thinking so severely? And if it did, then is this [....]

posted on May, 13 2010 @ 12:34 PM
warp a pure psychological defence against what hurts me so much in my own life, or maybe a result of some hormone changes like serotonin, dopamine and so on? Personally I'm leaning more toward this second possibility, since I have some Internet friends and when talk, for instance, to one friend of mine whom I like, and towards whom I feel some "deeper interest", I feel some sort of relief at that time. I don't know how to put it in more technical words, but it is as if I was at contact with an "object" that pleases me, which affects my brain to work in a more positive way.

I know that none of you will virtually cure me, but I was wondering if there were other as lonely people out here who could relate to this loneliness affecting them psychologically?

By the wat, sorry for posting one post after another, but just one wasn't enough to fit this ending. Besides, sorry if this text could be difficult to read at times, but even while writing it I had difficulties to focus and compose everything decently clearly

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