“The Placebo Effect”
In clinical research, one of the most annoying problems— one may even call it a “side effect”—is that known as the placebo effect. In numerous trials of drugs for hypertension, anxiety, insomnia, or the like, it has been found that up to one-third of the test subjects achieve the same desirable effects with a physiologically inert substance as are achieved with the wondrous new miracle drugs of the research laboratory.
I am sure that most doctors are fully aware of this effect. I have seen many acutely disturbed, restless, anxious schizophrenics settle down, roll over, and go to sleep, and heroin addicts whose withdrawal symptoms ceased, following injections of distilled water.
When I look back over my years of practice and over the history of medicine, I realize that many substances given over the years worked not through any physiological action they may have had, but through the placebo effect.
While I have not seen it myself, I have read of many cases of cancer that have been cured, or at least temporarily remitted, through the administration of placebos. Whenever a new unorthodox treatment is suggested for an incurable disease, such as multiple sclerosis, the establishment’s response is first to state that the doctor has not achieved the results he claims. When his patient histories indicate that he indeed has achieved these results, the establishment throws up its hands and says, “Well, it’s just the placebo effect,” as if that did not matter.
What I am proposing is that rather than dismissing a cure as being “just a placebo effect,” we should try to do the very opposite. We should try to make all cures a result of the placebo effect. If up to thirty-three percent of patients can improve with harmless distilled water, and only some sixty percent get the desired result with the pharmacologically active substance, we should be striving for all patients to be cured with a placebo. Then we would not have to administer the dangerous active substance.
Is this so outlandish? Let us for a moment examine the placebo effect. We basically believe that there are no limits to what the body and mind can do to heal a person once the life spirit is fully activated. We believe that the root cause of all disease, mental and physical, is a diminution of Life Energy. And we further believe, with Hippocrates and other great physicians over the millennia, that if the Life Energy, the vis medicatrix naturae, the healing power of nature within the patient can be activated, then the true cure will take place, and the body will heal itself.
The body has enormous restorative powers and a tremendous drive to achieve normality. This homeostatic drive is not utilized, in fact it is deadened, when a synthetic chemical is used in lieu of activating the Life Energy.
Orthodox medical research shows us that up to a third of patients can be cured of most diseases by nothing other than the accidental, unplanned, unintentional activation of the patient’s Life Energy. As a result of being in the experiment and being under constant observation and monitoring, they have taken heart. They have had their faith restored, their thymus energy raised, and their hearts opened. And in this state, healing occurs.
I have previously related how large wards of highly disturbed schizophrenic patients improved greatly just by being made the subject of an experiment—by my taking a great deal of interest in them, something which had never happened to them before. We did not even administer the placebo. I thought they were on medication, and I spent considerable time with them and had great optimism. This was transmitted to them, it activated their Life Energy, and they improved greatly.
The difference between faith healing and the placebo effect is that the healer sets out to raise the Life Energy of the sufferer, whereas with the placebo effect this is done unintentionally. And yet about thirty percent of the patients will improve as if they were given the active substance simply by this accidental enhancing of their Life Energy through hope, optimism, and enthusiasm.
Think how much more doctors could accomplish if they strove for positive, purposeful activation of the patient’s Life Energy, of his thymos. Perhaps then they would be healers, and the placebo effect would be the major means of effecting cures.
Many people have told me, “I don’t care if it’s ‘just’ the placebo effect. If it gets me better, that’s good enough for me.” Most scientists when asked, “How does a placebo effect occur?” will answer, “It’s just psychological.” What they are admitting, therefore, is the enormous role that the psyche—and, behind that, the spirit, the Life Energy—can play in curing the individual.
The next time you are with medical scientists, ask them, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all healing occurred through this ‘just psychological’ mechanism?” All true healing, the aim of all medicine, on the part of both the doctor and the patient, should occur through what we may call the intentional or purposeful placebo effect: the raising of the patient’s Life Energy.