The power of the human mind

The power of the placebo effect has intrigued me for some time.  As part of my Psychology studies I learnt about an (ethically dubious) experiment where they operated on people and told them they had had heart surgery, when in fact they had no procedure at all asides from the creation of an incision wound so the surgery would be believable.  In the first 6 months after the operations, they experienced as much benefits as those who had actually had the heart operation performed.  All those benefits were brought about through the expectations of the effects of surgery.  Wow.  How amazing is that.

On Wednesday, after a very long and traumatic hospital visit, I was given a new drug for my bad skin.  Now I have been on antibiotics for this for about 2 years now, and these had no effects either on my skin or my psyche.  But this new drug is a lot more powerful, and comes with an A4 book of side effects.  Now usually with the little leaflet of terrible side effects, I just flick through it and ignore most of them.  But as this one's side effects were worthy of an A4 booklet - I read them properly.  And got terrified.  I was really nervous about taking this drug, and sure enough, in less time than the drug could possibly have had all these effects, I was feeling sick, achey all over, my eyes and skin were dry and I had a headache.  Again, all through the power of expectation.

It makes me wonder - how far do these miraculous effects of expectation stretch beyond the physical, internal environment and into the wider aspects of our lives.  I mean we all know that we influence what happens to us through our attitude to a certain extent, but are we prepared to accept that what we expect actually determines the outcome.  What amazing things could we achieve using our minds when we expect good things to happen to us.  And how many times do we attain a worse outcome for ourselves by expecting only the negative.  I guess the moral of the story is, we all could use a little more faith in ourselves sometimes.


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