Belief in Placebo

I was about to start writing when one of those infomercials appeared, what it was selling really isn’t that important as 100% of the ones I have seen I have never wanted to buy or made me laugh, just as this one did. As once more was for one of those gadgets that no one ever actually needs. You know the type of gadget I am talking about, as like me, I bet you have at least one of them in your cupboards, that miracle item that was going to change your world, then you used half a dozen times and had until now forgotten was actually there. I know for a fact I have a couple at least, and they prove just how well a good sales person can make you buy what you really don’t need. I made a point about 20 years ago to just not look at those glossy little magazines that tempt you with the next great gadget, just as about 8 years ago I stopped reading those article claiming to have the miracle treatment that would cure my MS, the only real difference between the two, was money.

Recently I have come across several telling me that I could be cures and all I had to do was spend a huge amount of money, drink or take some potion and or stick to a diet. I have always been of the view that if there were any truth in their effectiveness, them my doctors would be telling me to take that treatment. I am not saying that some people have been helped but I have always felt there was a large amount of the placebo effect involved in the improvement in their condition. If you are in the UK and reading this you many have like me seen a program on Channel 4 the other week were Derren Brown cured huge groups, with many different conditions, some with complex fears, so bad that they ruled their lives, some with OCD. They were given a blue pill that was simply sugar, being Derren Brown it was all done very convincingly so I could see how these people could have totally taken in the possibility that it would really be helped. It was this group that they followed and all but one, was cured. There were other groups that we found out about near the end, he had also gave the same tablets to them, several had really bad medically diagnosed allergies, all were cured, including a boy with seriously bad dermatitis, he was totally cured as well. The proof of the show to me was that the human brain can have amazing powers that we are just scrapping the surface of, the placebo effect might in itself be a cure for many things.

I am not saying, in case anyone should think so, that we should all run off and pay a huge amount of money to take a quack cure, but my view of them has changed to a small degree. I think that it is possible that if someone believes enough, that they can relieve their symptoms from any condition, I don’t think you could cure cancer or even my MS, but I now see that you may well see a huge improvement, a twist if you like on positive thinking. I can’t help wondering though if like the gadget we think will change our world if the people cured by Derren Brown, in ten years time have forgotten what he did for them and they are back at point A with a cure in a cupboard somewhere forgotten about. I have said many times that self belief plays a huge role in my life and without it, I am sure I would not be as well as I am.

We all know, including the medical world, that placebo’s work, if the person believes for many it will happen, I can’t help wondering if more time was put into helping people deal psychologically with their illness, if the result might be, people who can live a fuller life with what ever their condition is. Hopefully that would also remove the openings for the scammers, the quacks just looking for money, as what they supply is the belief, a psychological crutch. Done properly and there through out the life of the condition, then it hopefully the treatment wouldn’t land up hidden in a cupboard, some might find that that is where their condition actually goes.