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Skinny Without Willpower

Friday, February 5, 2010


Most everyone must have heard of the placebo effect. It’s the healing effect that arises from the belief that something is beneficial. There are stories of world war II nurses giving saline water shots to injured soldiers and telling them they were given a powerful shot of morphine (because they ran out of morphine, of course). Surprisingly many of the soldiers did feel a reduction in pain. In almost all the drug clinical trials there is some placebo effect observed in the control group that receives the ‘sugar pill’. A recent article in the Scientific American talked about a patient with cancer tumors all over his body. He was fighting for every breath but believed that a new drug, Krebiozen, which was going to be given to him, would cure him of his cancer. Three days after he received his first injection he was able to walk and his tumors had shrunk by half. 10 days of treatment later he was discharged. Other patients in the hospital that received the same drug didn’t show any improvement. So why this miraculous recovery in this case? Apparently when the brain believes in something it triggers the appropriate response in the body to make it a reality. There have been known cases of multiple personality disorders in which a person suffers from a split personality and one of the personalities has diabetes while the other personality is perfectly healthy. So when the person is in the diabetic personality state he in fact has an insulin disorder and while he is in the healthy personality state his insulin response is perfectly normal, all in the same body! Scientists are now trying to unlock the missing link between what the mind believes and how the body heals due to that belief. So perhaps Aamir’s mantra ‘all is well’ works within one’s body! Or in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger (from his bodybuilding days): Where the mind goes, the body follows! These days I keep patting my injured shoulder and telling myself ‘all is well’ 

1 comment:

  1. There is a small village near where I live and there is a small time doctor. Pretty much everyone visits him. I have seen that he gives everyone a saline drip - even if all you complain of is a head ache. People love him for the kind of "care" he provides. Its good business for him because he can charge more. Recently my maid went there for a viral infection and he gave them three bottles of saline drip!