People think it automatically closes down an argument.
“I’ve got a pain.”
Examination. “I can’t see anything, it’s all in your mind.”
“Something doesn’t feel quite right about this.”
Shaking head, “It’ll be fine, it’s all in your mind.”
One area where I get particularly annoyed is in medicine. This is where we hear about the ‘placebo effect’. Obviously the placebo effect is worthless, after all it is all in the mind. You know the scenario. They do clinical trials, give half the group product (a), and the other half, a placebo. The validity of the medicine is based on how it performs against the placebo. If the medicine fails to outperform the placebo it is rejected.
Of course, what the protocol fails to measure is the validity of the placebo effect itself. Instead focusing only on the impact of the medicine being tested.
So we ignore the need for a holistic approach and offer a product (a) as a cure for a narrow symptom. But there may be a side effect. So they get another pill to counteract those symptoms. Then, guess what, this leads to yet more side effects and yet more medication. And so on, and so on.
Who is measuring and testing the impact of taking this new cocktail of drugs?
I am not suggesting that alternative therapies like NLP, EFT, Hypnosis, Meditation etc should replace medical treatment, simply that they should not be so readily dismissed as being ‘all in the mind’.
Hypnosis has been used to control pain for decades, and in this area at least, there have been some interesting findings.
Research by the University of Luxembourg examined ‘Pain, emotions and the placebo effect.’ In this study, researchers used fMRI technology to show that a person's ability to control their state and reframe negative events combined to influence how strongly a placebo will work to reduce pain.
Control their state and reframe negative events? Sounds a lot like NLP!
This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain to show a relationship between the regions in the brain that respond to a placebo and the ability to regulate emotions.
Dr Marian van der Meulen said (emphasis mine)
"Brain scans showed researchers that specific regions in the brain react when a person receives a placebo and as a result experiences less pain. The regions in the brain that process pain become less active, which demonstrates that the placebo effect is real. But the psychological mechanism is still very little understood, and it is unclear why some people show a much stronger placebo response than others. We suspected that the way we can regulate our emotions plays a role and set out to investigate this.
"It's important to understand that the placebo effect is not only an imagined improvement when we believe we receive a medication. The placebo effect had traditionally a negative reputation. During the last decade however, researchers have investigated the placebo effect itself. They have shown that placebos can trigger real biological changes in the body, including the brain, and that the placebo effect plays a role every time we receive a medical treatment. The placebo effect not only happens when administering a bogus treatment, but is a part of every medical procedure. It is triggered by the presence of a white coat and other signs of medical authority, verbal suggestions of improvement and previous experiences with a treatment. Clinicians or psychiatrists may be able to improve the outcome of a medical intervention by optimising the contribution of the placebo effect."
Your mind and body are directly connected and what is happening in one will directly impact the other.
An interesting twist in this debate came in November 2015 when the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center - found that mindfulness meditation reduced pain more effectively than a placebo. The researchers stated themselves “completely surprised by the findings”.
They took seventy-five healthy, pain-free participants who were randomly assigned to one of four groups: mindfulness meditation, placebo meditation, placebo analgesic cream or control. They said, “The study used a two-pronged approach -- pain ratings and brain imaging -- to determine whether mindfulness meditation is merely a placebo effect. “
Merely a placebo effect? Of course, 'it’s all in the mind'. Wait a minute, isn’t meditation all in the mind? And doesn’t meditation help us to control state and reframe negative events?
I think we have a long way to go, but maybe science is catching up at last.
Have a great day!
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Hi, thanks for visiting my blog. My name is Audrey Finch and I am an author and a passionate believer in holistic health and wellbeing.