While most of us are aware of the healing influences of the placebo effect, few are aware of its evil twin, the nocebo effect. Just as surely as positive thoughts can heal, negative ones – including the belief we are susceptible to an illness, can actually manifest the undesired realities of those thoughts.
Japanese children allergic to a poison ivy-like plant took part in an experiment where a leaf of the poisonous plant was rubbed onto one forearm. As a control, a nonpoisonous leaf resembling the toxic plant was rubbed on the other forearm. As expected almost all of the children broke out in a rash on the arm rubbed with the toxic leaf and had no response to the imposter leaf. What the children did not know was that the leaves were purposefully mislabeled. The negative thought of being touched by the poisonous plant led to the rash produced by the nontoxic leaf! In the majority of cases, no rash resulted from contact with the toxic leaf that was thought to be the harmless control. The conclusion is simple: positive perceptions enhance health, and negative perceptions precipitate dis-ease. This mind-bending example of the power of belief was one of the founding experiments that led to the science of psychoneuroimmunology. Perceptions have a tremendous influence in shaping the character and experiences of our lives. They are more influential than positive thinking because they are more than mere thoughts in our minds. Perceptions are beliefs that permeate every cell. Simply, the expression of the body is a complement to the mind’s perceptions, or, in simpler terms, believing is seeing!
Dr Bruce Lipton is a world renowned cell biologist, former University of Wisconsin Medical School professor and Stanford University researcher. Dr. Lipton has turned his scientific exploration to the integration of mind, body and spirit – how our beliefs affect our health. Dr Lipton is a popular speaker at Chiropractic Conferences. Read his book The Biology of Belief it is very illuminating.
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