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The Mind-Body Belief System
Research with placebos—nontherapeutic substances are commonly thought of as sugar pills—is also telling when it comes to the role of belief and the function of the mind in matters of wellness. When the faith and expectation of a subject invests in the power of the placebo, amazing things happen. What’s more, the treatment is relative to the condition, so one false pill can treat pain half as well as aspirin and half as well as morphine. Not surprisingly, telling the patient that the same tablet increases discomfort will result in just that.
Placebos don’t have to be pills; they can be creams, injections, or even surgery. Just as interesting, the effect is larger if you increase the dosage size—say a larger capsule or two of them. Further, research shows that a branded item works better than a plain one, one in a shiny box elicits greater results than one in a plain package, a capsule trumps a tablet, with an injection working even better. If you use fancy, expensive-looking, sophisticated equipment, it yields even more dramatic outcomes. The bottom line is that the greater the expectation, the greater the effect. In other words, building a strong belief creates the foundation for the result.2
There are still more revealing facts about placebos that dovetail directly into our human psychology. For example, color is often employed to evaluate mood states, as in the Lüscher Color Test. The validity of this test has been determined to be overall 81 percent in agreement with the Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis.3 So how does color correlate with the placebo effect? Well, blue is more effective as a “downer,” and red is the preferred color for an “upper.” Further, as Daniel Keogh and Luke Harris point out in their very informative Internet film, studies have shown that people who take their medication on a regular basis are much less likely to die than those who don’t adhere to their drug regimen, even if they’re only taking placebos. If that’s not enough to convince you of the power of belief, then try this one. Again, the creators of the aforementioned film point out that placebos can also be addictive. In one study, 40 percent of the women who’d taken an inactive medication for five years suffered withdrawal symptoms.4
Remember that by definition, there’s no medical value to a placebo. It’s not what’s in the substance that matters but what we put in it via our belief. Clever researchers can weight our belief by feeding an already expectant psychology with the right color, shape, size, and so forth to further ensure the maximum effect!5 That’s right, a genuine medical result from a nonmedical intervention. It’s clearly our minds that have the power.
The Authority Figure
Several years ago, I conducted research that involved patients diagnosed with cancer. I used a cognitive approach by employing an audio recording (my Innertalk technology) designed to fundamentally influence what the subjects thought to be true, generating a positive outlook and confidence in the body’s ability to heal itself. In other words, the design of the study sought to measure the influence of a change in beliefs on the progression of cancer.
In short, this is what we found: First, every single patient who believed that the mind had a role in wellness, and whose physician believed this as well, was in complete remission (no evidence of cancer). By contrast, every single individual whose doctor reported that the mind had no role in wellness was dead. In a sense, it didn’t matter what the patient thought within this latter group—it all depended upon the medical authority.
Even though this was just a small test group, the results disturbed and puzzled me. That puzzlement changed recently when science learned through the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that “parts of the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices, which play key roles in vigilance and skepticism when judging the truth and importance of what people say, were deactivated” in the presence of an authority. While the first study I noticed of this nature was about the clergy, other studies show that this effect includes anyone we think of as an authority.10
Similar to the power of the placebo, it appears that the health-care professional can reverse the positive by informing us that matters are out of our hands, and as with the cancer patients in the study, we’ll just surrender to their preconceptions and die.
It now seems obvious: What we believe predisposes our expectation and behavior. It directly influences our health, sense of well-being, and even the aging process. So what is it that you anticipate? Do you think you’ll “catch” the cold, flu or other “bug” that’s going around? Do you assume you’ll be sick for a certain amount of time? Does it seem that some illnesses are more likely at a specific age, under certain conditions, or simply because of genetics? What would happen if you changed your own beliefs about this? Is it possible that you could become healthier, avoid many of the infections that go around, and recover more quickly when you do become sick? Many people are reporting just this result.
Eldon Taylor has spent over 25 years researching the power of the mind and developing scientifically proven methods to use this power to enhance the quality of your life. I Believe is a book that will not only inspire you, but will highlight the kinds of beliefs you hold that may be causing you to fail. In the process, it will provide you with the opportunity to choose, once again, the beliefs that drive your life.