Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Placebo effect

This morning, I was reading a post revolving around the Placebo Effect on Seth Godin's blog. In simplest terms, placebo effect is something which happens purely on the power of suggestion (thanks Wiki). Though the post I read did not really dwell on the Placebo effect as such, it set me thinking. I have had my share of experiences when I totally believed something which was not true just because my brain insisted it was true.

Experience #1
A couple of weeks ago I had a horrifying dream where I was being chased by a big dog. In my dream I was doing a sprint of Olympic standards. But the dog was doing even better and was fast gaining on me. Finally, with a huge pounce it jumped on me.

At that exact moment, I woke up, found myself pinned to the bed and I simply couldn't move. My eyes were still closed and I totally believed there was a huge dog sitting on my chest, not allowing any movement.

Then it struck me, wait a minute - I had been running away from the dog. So I should be lying down on my stomach now with the dog on my back. But I was actually lying down on my back. So maybe this wasn't true...

Cautiously I opened my eyes and peeped at the world. All I could see were the flourescent stars on my bedroom ceiling - phew! My brain had done a good job at convincing me even if it was only for a short bit.

Experience #2
This other incident took place years and years ago when I was in the fourth grade. My family had just figured out that I needed to wear spectacles for myopia (ya, it was established quite early in life that I was destined to be one of those wise bespectacled people). My parents took me to the spectacles store to try on various frames. After a lot of tries, I finally decided on a pair I liked. My parents asked the proprietor to get us a non-display version of the same frame. The proprietor brought out the new frame, complete with lenses and all.

I was super thrilled. I wore them and grinned at my mom - "I can see so well now". And I could actually read some stuff on the far wall. My mom looked at me surprised and said, "Well, you do know that these lenses are just normal glass. Your prescribed lenses will take some time to arrive". I had been able to see well with ordinary glass for a brief bit because I had thought the glass was designed to help me see better...
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I do believe the mind-body connection concept has something going for it. Which is why it is all the more important to try really hard at maintaining positive thoughts I guess!

Do you have times when your brain has convinced you of some impossible thing?

10 comments:

rads said...

well, can't think of anything at this exact moment [it's early in the Am and there's an ice storm outside and my brain's frozen too ;)] but yes, you are right on.
The power of suggestion has amazing effects in everyday life and events.

Ive used it on the kids a whole lot! hehe, parents are such cheats I tell ya! ;)

vishesh said...

well i still don't believe in am really living and this is reality...
there are a lot of incidents and well the kinda nightmares/what i want the most getting spoilt happen everyday...if i don't dream,i haven't slept...

Joy said...

Positive thoughts can do wonders. If used very effectively, they can bring a person out of depression.

But don't you think everything is what our mind/brains makes us believe in. One is obsessed with something only till her/his mind is into it.

A thought provoking post.

Archana said...

Rads - heheh :-)! Man, you should probably write about your cheat-sheets :-)!

Vishesh - I have had such thoughts after watching some movies about existence (Truman Show, The Others..). Nice point - if i don't dream,i haven't slept.

Joy - One is obsessed with something only till her/his mind is into it. - sooooo true! I guess that's why putting your mind totally into sth you want is so important!

J said...

heyy I needed this post..thanks a lot. elaam theriyum, aanalum many times I am not a positive thinker :( I should learn how to control/train my subconscious mind.

And noticed my blog in your Cyber reads. thanks :-)

Archana said...

J - you are welcome :-D! That't the whole problem - solradhu is always a whole lot easier than the doing part :-(!

Prash said...

This is so true. Its amazing how your brain can convince you of some thing. It has happened to me quite a lot of times in the past. Thanks for the "effect" name. Now I will go and tell people tht it is...err.. some effect! There is another interesting thing.. that when some thing happens... you feel as if this has happened to you already some time... if I had known the name of that effect from some blog...

Archana said...

Prash - Welcome aboard :-)! LOL :-) - I really don't know if the technical term is placebo effect! There is a name for the already seen thing though - deja-vu - :-)

Prash said...

See...bloggin helps. May be I should read more! Hey wait.. I feel as if I told this to myself some time earlier... deja-vu :D

Oh.. this word verification!!! Grr..

Archana said...

Prash - hehehe :-)!