The Placebo Effect

As I mentioned in the preview to this issue, we will be discussing the placebo effect and how it applies to your life. I believe placebos are fantastic, research suggests that around 8 out of 10 times, placebos work. So if I were a doctor I would tell you to take 12 just to be sure.

So what is the placebo effect?

The placebo effect is the term applied by medical science to describe the healing qualities of inert medicines or faith healings that offer no explanation to their effectiveness. Placebos work purely by suggestion, meaning that if the person receiving it believes that it will have a certain effect then it generally does. This belief has to be 100% expectancy beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Here are a few examples of the placebo effect in action…

At a major league baseball game (I’m unsure of which one) there was a poisoning scare. It was stated that some people had been given first aid after severe food poisoning and it was announced via loud speaker that it was the hotdogs. As if by magic, 100’s of people started getting extremely ill and some were taken to hospital. After further investigation it was found that it had nothing to do with the hotdogs or any of the food, these initial people were just sick. As soon as this was announced, just about everyone suddenly lost their symptoms.

Another example related to the placebo effect is the Pygmalion Effect. This refers to students who either do well or do poorly just because they are expected to do so. There have been experiments were a group of kids who were assessed as being “troubled” were put in a class and told they were geniuses, even the teacher was told this. Then they took kids assessed as geniuses and labelled them troubled and did the same thing.

After some time there were follow-up assessments and it was found that each group were actually living up to their new labels. This was because of two reasons, one is that they themselves believed what the experts told them and unconsciously needed to live up to these expectations. The other reason is that the teachers expected certain results from the students and so projected this expectancy to them, which further reinforced their new label.

This shows why quite often a child who is labelled with ADD or other disorders actually gets worse once they are diagnosed. I’m not saying that these disorders don’t exist but the label reinforces it and is actually stronger than the actual disorder. The same goes for the labels you give yourself, however you see yourself you will unconsciously live up to it. This is also the case for the way other people see you, they way others project themselves to you and what they expect of you will often cause you to react accordingly just like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This is very evident in racism. Certain races are stereotyped within communities and lo and behold, they live up to it and further reinforce the stereotype.

Another example is the obvious medication example. In countless clinical trials for medicines, the researchers use a control group, generally the researchers don’t even know they are the placebo group (double blind study). The two groups are given a medication and informed of side effects and indications. Most often the group with the placebo or “sugar pill” exhibit effects that are to be expected of the drug itself.

To go a step further, there have been studies were one group were given an amphetamine and told it was a sleeping pill or sedative and another group given a sedative/sleeping pill and told it was an amphetamine. The results were quite interesting, the majority of each group acted as though they were given the drug they were told they had taken rather than the drug they had actually taken.

So why am I telling you all this? Because I have personally experienced some astounding examples of the placebo effect in action, all of which are powerful ways to make changes in your life and achieve amazing results in any area.

There was one lady I met with who was suffering a debilitating phobia, it was fear of open spaces and crowd, also known as agoraphobia. When I met with her we both agreed that it was created in her head, just as everything else is, I mean we’re not born with phobias. So by acknowledging that she has a problem and that the problem was self-created she had given herself enormous power because it meant that if she created it then she could eliminate it.

The first step was to get her out of her house to come and meet me, I refused to go to her because I wanted her to get fully associated to her fear. I deliberately chose a crowded place to further enhance the phobic response. At first she reluctantly left the house in a state of extreme fear and the deal was that she catch public transport. By the time she made it to the train station she was in a complete panic, and her station was not even very crowded at all. She called me and told me that she couldn’t do it.

When I spoke to her I said, “you’re already scared out of your mind right?” she said “yeah, about a level 10”. I said “so if you get on the train and come to meet me then you couldn’t really get any worse, I mean if you’re already at a level 10 then you’re about as scared as you could be right?” She said “well yeah, I suppose so.”

So she started on her way. When she got there I told her that I had been delayed and couldn’t be there for another 30 minutes so she might as well have a look around while she’s there. Finally I met up with her and by this point she was in a complete state of panic.

At this point I used an NLP phobia cure technique that is designed to scramble the phobic conditioning at the point were it is stored in the brain. This technique works most of the time but sometimes it is not effective in extreme cases like this one, not 100% anyway.

After this we just had a chat and I told her a story and dropped in some hypnotic suggestions. Just as we were about to part ways, I used a line that Richard Bandler (co-founder of NLP) used in a similar situation. I said, “any problem worth having for 20 years is worth forgetting for the rest of your life right?”, she said “yeah of course.

I asked her if she had ever lost something that she could never find again, she started telling me a story about how she lost some toy when she was little. So I started talking about the toy and how it is EASY to sometimes FORGET about something and LOSE it FOREVER.

Then I said, “so just give it to me” in an abrupt tone. I grabbed her hand and pried it open and pretended to grab something out of it. She looked at me a little confused and I said, “it looks like I have it right here”, she was still confused and I said “your fear, it looks like I have it here, you don’t really need it anymore anyway do you?” She said “well I guess not”, still a little confused and then we parted ways.

I spoke to her 6 weeks later and she told me she had not experienced a phobic response since. I mean isn’t that just ridiculous? What did I really do? Absolutely nothing, it was all a matter of suggestion that she created and then eliminated in her own head, it was of little importance what it was that created the phobia in the first place as long as the pattern was interrupted and changed.

I’m not mentioning this to impress anyone but I want to show you how silly our minds can be. If something as strong as a phobia or bad habit can be created easily then why couldn’t you install something that will actually help you and propel you forward? Well you can, in just the same way as something negative is created.

So how can you use the placebo effect in your life?

What is something that you believe beyond a shadow of a doubt? Something like the sun is going to rise in the morning. How do you know that? You know it with absolute certainty right? There is no doubt in your mind that the sun will rise tomorrow, unless you live in northern Canada in the winter months.

Now what is something that you believe but wish you didn’t? What is something you would like to believe with absolute certainty? Remember that something you believe will most often manifest itself for real, just like the effect of the “sugar pill”.

Take the belief of the sunrise, what reference experiences support that belief? What pictures do you make in your mind? What sounds are there? What kind of feelings do you get when you know the sun will rise? Compare that with the same experience of something you want to believe but don’t. What if you were to replace that with the same sensations of certainty?

Play around with the sub-modalities and see what strengthens the belief. Create as many references/evidence that supports the new belief as possible. I’m sure that if you look hard enough you will find enough evidence to suggest that what you want to believe is indeed true.

Well that’s enough for this issue. Today we will only have this feature article without including smaller articles because it is rather long. Until next time, LIVE WITH PASSION!

Don’t forget to forward this on to your friends.

To your health, wealth and happiness,

Chris Lyons.
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