Placebo and the Power of Belief


Our minds control everything in our lives, from our health and well-being to our stress levels, feelings and emotional reactions. Our beliefs run the show. And beliefs are POWERFUL. Just look at the placebo effect. 

The placebo effect occurs when a fake drug treatment given to a patient and causes a physical response in their body. So in other words, they take a sugar pill and they feel better. Crazy, but it has been documented numerous times in scientific studies. 

Now there’s also a nocebo effect that works in just the opposite way of the placebo. If somebody thinks a drug might make them feel worse, it likely will. Even when the drug is not a drug—it’s just another sugar pill. 

The Thomas Theorem is another illustration of the power of belief. It states that a person’s interpretation of a situation can essentially cause the outcome for that person. The way a person subjectively thinks about a situation, or what they believe about the situation, can directly affect their state of being. So many times it’s not the situations we face that affect us, but rather, our interpretations of the situations. It’s what we think about that affects our health and well-being.

This notion, developed by two Sociologists, was based on observing a mentally ill prisoner who violently attacked fellow inmates whenever he saw them talking. Regardless of what they were saying, and without ever confronting them first, he believed they were bad-mouthing him every time they talked. Whenever he saw this, he attacked. Not because of what they were doing—because the inmates weren’t talking about him—but because of what he thought they were doing. 

Challenge Your Beliefs

We need to work on how we think about the world because our minds produce physical reactions in the body that can either promote health or promote illness. We need to be mindful of our thoughts and about life’s situations—especially the ones that are causing us stress. Oftentimes, it is our thinking that is harming us, rather than some external cause. We should challenge our thinking, and do so on a regular basis. 

Think about what you think about most of the time throughout the day. How do you react to the situations in your environment? How can you improve your thoughts and reactions? Are they hurting you or causing you health challenges?

There are many ways to change our thinking, as described in the Logicast episodes, the book, and throughout this platform. Regardless of our situations, it’s always a good idea to evaluate our thinking and look for ways to improve it because our beliefs dictate our lives.

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