Placebo effect vs. Nocebo effect: the Power of Suggestion

/, Psychology & Mental Health, Self-Improvement, Uncommon Science/Placebo effect vs. Nocebo effect: the Power of Suggestion

placebo nocebo suggestionIt’s incredible how much each individual’s subconscious may be influenced by the power of suggestion! Since the subconscious mind is what controls our body and whole life, through suggestion we may get a lot of events going – some pleasant, some very unpleasant.
We all have heard of the placebo effect. In an experiment, you are given a drug that you are told is very effective – let’s say, a gastric banding. Of 100 volunteers who tested the drug, approximately 50 finds indeed that they got rid of stomach pain. But, surprise! So-called drug is actually a sugar pearl covered with a blue coating. It contains nothing more than sugar. So, what healed the 50 volunteers? The power of suggestion. They were told that they would do well, and it happened. In fact, their subconscious was convinced of the efficacy of the medicine and gave the necessary commands to the body to feel good.

Far fewer have heard of the nocebo effect. In a similar experiment, you are given a pill about which you are warned that it will harm you – for example, the pill that will provoke stomach cramps. This time, the percentage of people who complained about stomach pain is 90! Obviously, it was the same harmless sugar pill. Thus the power of negative suggestion is much bigger than the power of positive suggestion.

Everything that our mind believes in, can be achieved.

And this should give us something to think about. Every day, every hour, we are exposed to a true avalanche of negative messages mainly in the press: floods, earthquakes, plane crashes, murders, rapes, prices rise, malicious gossip of colleagues, car accidents, etc… These messages with strong emotional value are stored in our subconscious mind without us even realizing that and the result is that we go wrong without knowing why. We are depressed, we lose faith in a better life, we are expecting worst to happen. We blame fate, the government, in-laws, colleagues, without noticing that in fact we ourselves are the cause.

That’s over! Put your foot down! Start today to close the doors to these dangerous guests. Avoid watching news broadcasts and reading journals full of negative news. Watch educational programs or programs that would restore your optimistic state. Music, entertainment, Mr. Bean…

Avoid negative people, those who constantly whine, criticize and condemn. If those are your work colleagues, or worse, your boss, think very seriously to look for another job. Otherwise, remaining with them, you risk to be doomed to a life of failure and frustration. Associate yourself with positive, optimistic and success-oriented people. If you want to have a successful life, you must stay as much as you can around successful people. Learn from them, think like them, act like them. Use the power of positive suggestion, constantly reading motivational books or biographies of successful people, listening to motivational CDs, attending courses and seminars on success and watching successful people on TV. In short, maximize the power of positive suggestion and minimize the power of negative suggestion. Take control of all elements surrounding your suggestions and use them to achieve your goals.

Also, I suggest a little exercise that you should do daily for two weeks:

  1. Do not not complain about anything, neither to yourself nor to others;
  2. Stop watching the news on TV;
  3. Do not hear the complaints of people around, ask them to change the subject.

If you have the patience to do this exercise, you will notice that your perspective on life will change.


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About the Author:

I'm a law student who is fond of reading and writing about interesting topics on science (especially cognitive science and psychology), technology, and different extraterrestrial and paranormal stuff. I'm passionate about movies, travelling and photography.


  1. Ashley April 14, 2013 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    This is so true! I noticed that when I stopped looking at myself in the mirror and criticizing how I looked, I felt so much better about myself. Although, it is hard to train your mind to do so sometimes.
    In all reality, you can’t stay away from negativity. It’s all around you and there are certain situations you simply can’t get away from at the time but even changing your mindset in a negative surrounding can help immensely.

    • Anna April 14, 2013 at 5:46 pm - Reply

      yes, sometimes self suggestion can do micarles!

  2. Roxanne Louise July 31, 2016 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    As a Hypnotherapist, Dowser, Stress Management Expert specializing in mental/emotional healing, I am well aware of the power of both the Placebo/Nocebo effect. In fact, I am presenting this topic at August’s 2016 National Guild of Hypnotists Convention.

    So this topic is important for everyone to understand.

    However, the “turn off the news” is problematic. It falls into a trap of “See no evil.” What you do not see, you cannot address. While it is not easy, it is important to be AWARE yet have PERSPECTIVE, yet address issues,and take positive action despite what is going on. It is also important to be highly discerning in what news sources you listen to as certainly the big media sources (a monopoly now owned by just 6 people) are currently accused of propaganda and spin. Finding credible sources is another issue. Finding others who have the sense of awareness combined with positive action is another.

    Also, rather than write off every person that complains, that is going through hardship, which to me smacks hugely of lack of compassion, there is a way to help “negative people” shift their focus on problem to solution instantly in ordinary conversation. For example, “If it could work, how would it work? If you could ___, what is something, no matter how small, that you could do right now to help that along?” And if that is inappropriate or fails, simply saying “I’m so sorry you are going through this, but I want you to know I ____ (love you, believe in you, feel you are going to get through this).”

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