Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Placebo .... Again

The Placebo
            The placebo is often talked about in medicine – that people are able to feel some sort of effect from taking a sugar pill - Whether it be symptoms being removed, pain killing properties, or even a full cure of a disease or disorder, all from a pill that is supposed to do nothing. Although this sounds miraculous, even magical, we tend to think of it negatively.
            I remember the first day me and my friends discovered alcohol. There were 4 of us in the kitchen, messing with the alcohol, and 1 was sitting in the living room, appropriately nervous. While the 4 of us were taking shots of disgusting things, we decided to pour a glass full of grenadine for our friend in the other room. Grenadine, as many know, is non-alcoholic. We watched him drink the full glass of grenadine, and what followed was fairly interesting to me, and hilarious to the others: he was drunk. Of course he wasn’t actually intoxicated from alcohol, that would be impossible, but his actions were certainly drunk.
            This happens all the time at parties – you see it - people take a shot of alcohol and suddenly act as if they've been drinking all day. The oddest part of this is the social aspect – we think negatively, or condescending to people who do this. It’s embarrassing to be a ‘victim’ of the placebo in our culture, which I’d like you to think about. Why would it be embarrassing to act drunk off one drink? For one it makes you a cheap date(!!), but two, it shows that you have an interesting ability to trick yourself into things. In the cases I just talked about, the benefit of this placebo is social lubricant, one drink is going to do little physiologically, by psychologically if it removes your inhibitions – that could be beneficial to making friends and forming fun memories.
            On a more serious note, however, the placebo extends far deeper than social lubricant – it is deeply entwined in healing, therapy, and curing ailments; and it is not something to be embarrassed about at all. In fact, I would say it should be praised. I am not easily given in to placebo, and this is unfortunate – I cannot be hypnotized, and I analyze any prescriptions, drugs, or foods I take very carefully to avoid the placebo in the name of hard science. However, often I wish I had never learned to go this route, for the placebo is a mastery of the mind in a way we often disguise as stupidity. We believe that it is simply tricking one’s self, and you must be a fool to trick yourself.
            Yet, digging deeper you will find that meditation, trance-states, astral projection, and other forms of self-hypnosis are actually the placebo effect, manifesting in various areas of our perception.
Meditation is a placebo for the idea that nothing is happening.
Trance-states are a placebo for the idea that you are feeling something more!
Astral projection is a placebo for the idea you are asleep!
            We can trick our minds into certain states of being, and the greater your ability to do these things, the more relaxed, healthy, and able you are going to be in numerous situations. To believe you are being healed by a sugar pill and to have done so, is a far greater accomplishment in my eyes than to know that you’ve gotten a placebo, since you feel nothing.
            This trickery of ourselves is a controlled loss-of-control, if that makes any sense, and I would argue it was highly necessary to our survival. All shamanism, and medicine men and women were able to not only access their placebo and enter altered states of consciousness to seek truth and understanding, but they were masters of bringing out the placebo in others. 
            We know that eating ginseng every day will probably not cure you of a serious disease. At the same time we also have heard of people being completely cured of serious ailments with one treatment of ginseng (or any other medicinal herb). Western culture identified only the ginseng as the medicine. Eastern, and ancestral knowledge knew that ginseng is just a carrier of the placebo, a carrier of the ritual, a carrier of an altered state of mind – one of healing, hope, and comfort.
            We have left the idea that rituals are required in medicine, and instead only kept the physical compounds which seemed to be “active”. But activity is often only half the picture. One’s state of mind is absolutely essential to the activity of any molecules in the body – and that goes with my previous video that the mind and body are one.
            Just remember next time someone “acts” more intoxicated, happy, or cured than you would expect – they aren’t fools, they have tapped into their controlled loss of control. They have accessed a state of mind that many of us have thrown in the garbage – the ability to believe, and the ability to cure ourselves from within.

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