Leveraging the Placebo Effect

My friend’s husband has unknowingly been drinking caffeine-free coffee for the last three months. It worked just as well as regular coffee—until he found out that his wife and assistant had been conspiring for the sake of his health. The moment he found out it wasn’t “real” coffee and he shouldn’t be experiencing any stimulating effects, it stopped working.

Why did the caffeine-free substance work just as well for three whole months? That would be the placebo effect or the power of his mind. He expected it to work and hence experienced feeling more awake and less tired.

In the medical field, the placebo effect is defined as a measurable, observable, or felt improvement in health or behaviour that arises from the patient’s expectations concerning an inactive substance—like a sugar pill, distilled water, or saline solution—or a “fake” treatment rather than from the substance or treatment itself.

Different definitions speak about the expectation, or faith, or belief of the person as the defining factor for the placebo to work. Rob Williams, the founder of PSYCH-K®, a highly effective belief change system, suggests that it would be more fitting to refer to the placebo effect as the “perception effect”.

The western medical community has officially known about this phenomenon for 80 years. The American anaesthesiologist Henry Knowles Beecher discovered the placebo effect as a medic in World War II. After running out of pain-killing morphine, he replaced it with a simple saline solution but continued telling the wounded soldiers it was morphine to calm them.

If we have known about this for 80 years, why aren’t we leveraging the power of our mind more? The placebo effect should be a major topic of study in medical school. It gives doctors an efficient, side effect-free tool to treat disease. Instead it is often still regarded as something that is “all just in the person’s mind” and is linked to weak or suggestible patients.

We are all suggestible! Our world is full of suggestions, from the moment we wake up in the morning right up until we go to bed at night. The suggestions are on the radio, in the paper, on TV, and on the Internet. In fact, there are suggestions in this article that you are reading right now. Suggestions are littered throughout the media, whether they show up as supposedly objective news stories or commercials. They are on the bus and at work as we listen to other people sharing their beliefs. Beliefs are contagious. Suggestions are especially powerful when we enter the office of an authority like a doctor, a teacher or another person we admire and trust, like a Psychic we seek out for advice. And even when we are not listening to somebody outside ourselves, the suggestions are running in our own heads. We are constantly hypnotizing ourselves by repeating our current beliefs and stories.

Now, is that a problem? Not at all. We just need to harness the power of our subconscious mind and our beliefs and use them to our advantage. We need to be very aware of negative suggestions and we need to choose more supportive ones. We can literally change our biology and our health by what we believe to be true.

Bruce Lipton quote AUnfortunately, drug companies study patients who respond to the placebo effect with the goal of eliminating them from early clinical trials. (Greenberg, “Is it Prozac? Or Placebo?” 2003) An estimated one third of the population responds especially well to placebos. Those highly responsive people are eliminated before the drug is even tested. Drug companies obviously have no interest in researching the healing power we all have inside because we won’t need to buy drugs if we can actually heal from within. Knowing about the power of our beliefs and our ability to create our reality from those beliefs and perceptions, and to even change our biology, would open the door to a multitude of other possibilities for the human race. These potentialities would dramatically and completely change our consciousness level and affect the way we live. It would most likely be the end to many industries on the planet, the health industry being one of the foremost ones.

The Basic PSYCH-K® Training includes a documentary about different studies which illustrate that conventional medicine is often as effective as a placebo treatment. A Baylor School of Medicine study, published in 2002 in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined surgery for patients with severe and debilitating knee pain. The patients were divided into three groups. The surgeon, Dr. Bruce Moseley, shaved the damaged cartilage in the knee of one group. For the second group he flushed out the knee joint, removing all of the material believed to be causing inflammation. Both of these processes are the standard surgeries for severe arthritic knees. The third group only received a pretend surgery: the patients were sedated, the three standard incisions were made and then the surgeon talked and acted just as he would during surgery. All three groups were prescribed the same postoperative care which included an exercise program. The results were astonishing! The placebo group improved just as much as the other two groups who had surgery. The footage shows members of the placebo group walking and playing basketball.

Bruce Moseley quoteAnother area in which placebos have been proven to be highly affective is the antidepressant industry. A 2002 article published in the American Psychological Association’s prevention & treatment, by University of Connecticut psychology professor Irving Kirsch titled, “The Emperor’s New Drugs,” found that 80% of the effect of antidepressants, as measured in clinical trials, could be attributed to the placebo effect. Kirsch had to file a Freedom of Information Act request to even get his hands on the information on the clinical trials of the top six antidepressants on the market. In more than half of the clinical trials, the placebo worked as well as the drug. “The difference between the response of the drugs and the response of the placebo was less than two points on average on this clinical scale that goes from fifty to sixty points. That’s a very small difference, that difference is clinically meaningless.” (Kirsch)

Cell biologist Bruce Lipton also notes that the more antidepressants were talked about in the media and advertised for, the more effective they became. We are, as I mentioned earlier, all suggestible. We live in a culture where most people believe that anti-depressants work, and therefore they do.

A young man I know has recently been told that after taking a particular anti-depressant for six years his body had become accustomed to it and it would not work anymore. Guess what happened instantly after his doctor had given him this suggestion? Exactly! It stopped working for him. The one thing this young man can count on is that the doctor will next suggest this amazing new anti-depressant which will be all hyped up as working so much better. And it will indeed work. But not necessarily because the drug is all that it is made out to be, but rather because we believe it is. After all, anti-depressants are an $8.2 billion industry.

If we can heal by believing that a particular drug or treatment will cure us, what does this mean? It means that it is really our beliefs, thoughts, and feelings which are responsible for a change. We believe that the coffee will wake us up, or that the pain medication with a known brand name will reduce the discomfort, or that the anti-depressant will make us feel better. When it comes to depression, the general belief is that a chemical deficit in the brain is responsible. If our thoughts and emotions release different chemicals in the brain, wouldn’t it make more sense to work on a person’s thoughts and feelings to induce a different chemical state? Relaxation, meditation and belief change work are all a gift to claim our power to heal ourselves and to make any changes to our thoughts and experiences.

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The first thing which needs to change is for everybody to realize that we are constantly influenced and hypnotized to believe what the people around us believe. We have been brainwashed and programmed to believe that we need something outside ourselves to make changes to what we believe to be real, like our physical health. One of the hardest things to do is probably to go against our collective beliefs.

Somebody who has been diagnosed with a particular illness, whether that is cancer, MS, lupus, fibromyalgia, to just name a few of those big ones, has to not only defy any personal limiting beliefs but also the collective beliefs about what it means to have one of these diseases. Connie Kowalski, an amazing colleague of mine, has refused to play within the field of Lupus and has come back to perfect health after needing a wheelchair and everybody fearing she wouldn’t have long to live. She did deep healing work at a subconscious level. Another friend and colleague of mine, Allison Bastarache, has done the same for MS. She healed herself completely and has now stepped into her calling of being an energy worker and spiritual healer. As these two amazing women and their beautiful healing stories show, our potential healing power is truly limitless!

Are you ready to embrace your own power to change your reality?

PSYCH-K®, Hypnosis and NLP all give us tools to make changes.

Contact Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

If you enjoy my posts, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

The Five Blind Men and the Elephant

blindmen & elephant

Have you heard the Asian tale of the five blind men and the elephant? Five blind men come upon an elephant. They have never heard of an elephant. The first man feels a leg of the elephant. He says, “Ah, I know what this is! An elephant is a pillar!” The second man grabs the tail. “Ah,” he concludes, “an elephant is a rope.” The third man touches the trunk and decides an elephant is a snake. The fourth one happens to touch the ear and decides an elephant must be a hand fan. And the fifth one upon touching the tusk is convinced an elephant is a spear.

All five of them have only perceived part of the truth. All five of them have also interpreted their perception based on their old subjective experiences and beliefs about the world. They are only able to interpret what their functioning sense of touch picks up based on the individual “bucket” of beliefs and experiences they come from.

One of the hardest things for us humans seems to be not to jump to conclusions, to remember that our perception is limited and that facts only become a story based on our interpretations. In her book, “My Stroke of Insight”, Jill Bolte-Taylor describes well how our left brain, which she calls our “story teller”, perceives certain facts and how it fills in the gaps between these facts with an interpretation or meaning. We create our story based on those facts. When we come across more facts, we need to revise our interpretation, as the original story otherwise doesn’t match all the facts.

blindmen & elephant leg QUOTE

James N Miller is certainly not alone. Even though I am aware of how our brain functions, it still happens to me that I jump to conclusions. The other day, I sent an email to somebody asking the person for a favour and I did not hear back. I assumed she was reluctant to meet my request. A couple of weeks later, I found out I had sent the email to one of her e-mail addresses which she doesn’t use much. Instead of jumping to a conclusion based on a fear that my request would not be met, I should have followed up again by phone.

blindmen & elephant trunk QUOTEWhen we have children and they come home from school with a story about their day, we sometimes as parents tend to jump to conclusions because we only hear their side of the story. We are convinced the teacher or another child has not treated our child well. As a mother, I had to remind myself several times over the past twenty plus years of the “in dubio pro reo” principle. If there is any doubt or possibility that I have not gathered all the Intel, I should not judge, yet.

Thankfully, I was a teacher for many years and have seen parents show up in school with only part of the story, or with a misinterpretation based either on limited facts or on their own expectations or beliefs about school, or both. Yet, my first response as a mother still was to feel protective of my daughter and want to call up the school to defend her. The reminder that I need to gather more facts before I jump to the conclusion that somebody has treated my child unfairly saved me from making a fool of myself a few times.

Teachers also appreciate when they are approached calmly by a concerned parent. As parents, we can be strong advocates for our children without getting angry and accusing anybody. Having been on both ends of the table, I know that non-violent communication works best and teaches our children that we can talk about any problems.

My mother was passionate and expressive. Even though she wasn’t Italian, she could easily have passed as the proverbial Italian. Happiness was loud, she had the greatest laugh, and so was anger. She was often jumping to conclusions and getting angry at my teachers. Part of me understood she wanted to protect me, another part was really embarrassed by her response. It wasn’t productive. The older I became, I told my mother less and less about school, because I was afraid she would create problems where there were none. Whenever I feel the impulse to defend my children, I remind myself what it was like to have a mother who acts impulsively.

With all our interactions, let’s remember that everybody perceives a situation through their own filters. There is no absolute truth. We are only capable of perceiving an aspect of the truth based on the facts we have access to, our beliefs and our previous experiences. Next time we feel ready to judge a person or situation, let’s keep in mind that we might not have the whole picture, just like the five blind men with the elephant.

blindmen & elephant tusk QUOTE

Angelika

Belief Change Coaching

Hypnosis & PSYCH-K®

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

If you are enjoying my posts you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the follow button in the right hand corner of your screen.

Tender Loving Care

I have been feeling under the weather for the last couple of days and have been observing how it affects me to feel this way. There is nothing like being sick with a cold that brings out the inner child in us. It makes us feel miserable, vulnerable and slightly overwhelmed.

When my girlfriend called me and asked in her ‘mommy voice,’ “How are you, sweetheart?” and responded to me feeling sorry for myself with “my poor sweetie,” I could have cried, not in a bad way, but because she made me feel so loved. Just talking to her made me feel a bit better.

TLC

Not feeling well always reminds me of being sick as a child and makes me miss my mom a bit. For a day or two—or however long it took—all pressures and obligations were gone. Nobody wanted anything or expected anything. It was the perfect state of being, feeling and taking it slow. My mom would run out for me and get me what I needed: reading material and other little treats. She would cook me “feel better” food and make me hot milk with honey. Everything she did said “I care about you and how you feel”.

Wouldn’t it be so fabulous to always be mothered a bit when we are not feeling well? What if somebody did all the housework, shopping, cooking and gave us all the love and attention we need? It IS fabulous when we can relax into knowing that our needs matter.

I have heard women joke many times—and I have  joined in on occasion—that their husbands turn into little babies when they are sick. Often there is a bit of annoyance and judgment underneath those jokes. I also wonder if those comments originate from the deep desire to let our own little girl come out when we are feeling sick.

I had a boyfriend many years ago who would respond to me being sick with “Sorry you are not feeling well. I will see you next weekend.” His only concern was that he didn’t want to get sick himself. Back then, I didn’t know I deserved better. Sometimes relationships teach us what we want, sometimes what we don’t want, or both. Since then one of the most important measures for every relationship I have had has been whether I can be sick and needy when I am with this person.

In a conscious partnership, both individuals are aware of their own inner children and the needs those children have. Both partners communicate those needs openly and make requests based on their feelings and needs. In order to give AND receive, we need to have certain subconscious beliefs in place. Beliefs that we always have to be tough and independent and cannot ask for help or love do not serve us. In order to give ourselves permission to receive, we need to feel that our needs matter, that we deserve to be taken care of, we deserve to rest and we deserve to ask for help.

Obviously, that mothering goes both ways. Maybe next time, when our partner turns into a little baby because he is feeling under the weather, we can give him love and attention without annoyance or sarcasm. If I judge him for reacting this way, it is because I am most likely not allowing myself to be in that vulnerable place when I deep-down really long to be taken care of as well.

Another limiting belief I often hear is that men are just not capable of taking care of others, at least not as well as we women are. They ARE capable! We need to allow them to step into that energy of taking care of others and they will do just fine. Just as we learned to mother others—it wasn’t a gift we were born with—they can learn to do the same. What they are not though, are mind-readers. We need to communicate how we feel and request what we need.

When we let go of our beliefs that we are just better care-takers, the benefits for us are that we can relax into that place of the little girl who just needs some TLC to feel better again soon. Nothing heals faster than Tender Loving Care.

Love

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Angelika, 905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

The Time of Giving

This is the time of giving and, like every year at this time, most of us are balancing or even struggling to balance the gift giving.

gift giving

Each year, this strikes me as odd. Isn’t true giving, after all, just about freely parting with something without expectations of receiving anything in return? Yet, the way we have set up our busy lives and Christmas in particular, with all the get-togethers and gift “obligations,” we can easily end up all stressed out or in debt—or both—due to a celebration which in its nature is not about materialistic considerations at all. How we handle Christmas gives us a good insight into how we handle life.

Are you a person who has everything planned out by October and with self-discipline tics off one present after the next from your list? Are you a last-minute shopper? Are you the one known for giving the perfect or the best presents? Does Christmas put you in the feeling space of “not having enough” money or time? Do you end up in debt after Christmas, having to cut out every other pleasure from your life for a few months afterwards? Is this perhaps how you choose to go through life in general?

One thing I hear from clients on a regular basis is, “I don’t get as much as I give”. This is not necessarily a comment restricted to celebrations and gift giving. They are talking about prime relationships, usually their partnership. What if you find yourself always over-giving, not just at Christmas but as a general life experience?

Does giving and receiving always have to be in balance? Should we only give when we receive? Of course not. There is great joy in giving, especially when somebody needs it, independent of what we get back from that one person. When we give to one person, the way the Universe and energy works is that it will come back to us from somewhere else. What goes around, comes around, in regards to anything we do. Do I treat people with consciousness and fairness, or am I out to hurt them? Do I freely give from the heart, or do I grudgingly buy something because I feel I have to?

Now, in the case of the person who says “I give more than I get back,” something is going wrong. Not because the giving and receiving is out of balance, but because of the feeling space of not being appreciated, of not getting what he or she needs in return.

love yourself

The giving in this case by all means does not need to stop. Instead he or she needs to think about ways of giving to himself or herself as well. Only when we truly appreciate ourselves and without guilt take care of our needs, can we freely give to others. What might be out of balance is not how much we give and get, but how much we are able to open up to receiving.

Do you truly feel you deserve to receive good things? Can you start by giving time, compassion and little daily joys to yourself?

loveyourself

Does giving to others always mean it has to be expensive and potentially put me into financial trouble? Is a personal Christmas card with heartfelt words and some home baked cookies not worth much more than an expensive store-bought gift to the adults in our life? Is a big hug, encouraging loving words and spending quality time playing and laughing not worth more than the newest electronic toy to our children?

Christmas-quoteI think we all know the answer, yet we do not always seem to act on it. What subconscious beliefs are holding us back from giving meaningful and less expensive gifts rather than over-spending? If our beliefs don’t serve us, we can let go of them.

gift giving quote

What if your family or friends have less money than you? I remember years ago in one of the earlier episodes of the TV show “Friends” some of the Friends had more money than others. The friends with less money felt embarrassed and pressured, when the Friends with more money were able to spend it freely on activities. What is a conscious way of handling a situation like that?

What do you do when your partner or friend has considerably less money than you? Can nobody go on vacation, or to the theatre, or a concert, or out for a nice dinner? Basically you have three conscious choices other than nobody gets to enjoy the activities life has to offer.

  1. You can go on vacation, to the theatre etc. by yourself or with another family member or friend.
  2. You can choose to pay for your partner or friend and enjoy time together. After all, money is just a means to an end.
  3. You can do something else with this person which is not dependent on finances.

Whichever decision you make, sit with it and feel it. Which one can you feel good about? If you cannot give and then let the money go, don’t pick choice #2, as your resentment impacts your experience as well as everybody elses.

Another question I would ask, is this situation of not having financial abundance a long-term, possibly life-long situation? If so, this person needs to change their subconscious beliefs about money, finances and prosperity. He or she might believe him/herself to be unable to make money, or keep/mange money, or to be undeserving of the freedom that money can buy. The list of limiting financial beliefs is almost endless. Most of them we are unaware of or truly believe that they are the “truth”.

gift giving - cookies

If your approach to Giving, to Christmas and/or to Life in general works for you, good for you. If Christmas stresses you out, emotionally or financially, and you feel you have no time to rest, reflect or be, you can shift your beliefs and make changes to your life.

Belief Change Coaching

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca