Today, let’s explore the intriguing placebo and nocebo effects and what they could reveal about the human mind. We all have heard of the miraculous placebo effect: you take a simple aspirin strongly believing that it will reduce your cholesterol and it does!

While the positive effects of placebo pills or treatments are widely known, very little is told about nocebo. The nocebo effect is the negative reaction experienced by a patient who takes a harmless substance.

Placebo and Nocebo Effects – Positive vs. Negative Thinking

The human body responds positively or negatively depending on cultural norms, superstitions, suspicions, or thought patterns, which are planted in our minds in early childhood. The tendency to see the glass half-full or half-empty and, therefore, to focus on the positive or negative, comes from both our nurture and genetic heritage.

Is upbringing to blame?

If you have been raised in a family where discipline is the defining word, you may grow to associate any experience of pleasure with restrictions and taboo.

On the contrary, if you have been brought up in a family with very permissive rules, openness to novelty will be central to your personality. In other words, our upbringing has a tremendous effect on our later worldview and experience of overall satisfaction with life.

Placebo personality

The placebo and nocebo effects are both characterized by intense reactions and emotions but have very different outcomes. A cheerful optimistic person who is able to truly believe in the benefits of treatment has the psychological resources to alleviate stress and view things in a positive manner.

At the other end of the spectrum, an individual guided by negative thoughts and pessimistic views can reduce if not annihilate the beneficial effects of treatment, using the destructive power of their mindset.

Nocebo personality

Unfortunately, individuals who have a nocebo personality are also more resistant to positive thinking and tend to have lower levels of self-esteem. These individuals are reluctant to other’s people good intentions and have a failure-oriented mindset. For nocebos, dark expectations bring dark realities.

Beliefs that heal or sicken

Very few people understand that their minds govern their bodies. The will to live and a strong faith that one can surmount the problem with health-sustaining drugs do play a role in maintaining a healthy life.

Every time an individual obsessively thinks of sickness and diseases, the consequences will shortly appear. In the same way, individuals guided by positive thinking increase their chances to recover from the most irrecuperable conditions.

Valerie Soleil, B.A., LL.B.

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the power of misfits

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