So, what is the nocebo effect and how is it relevant to you?
We have all heard of the Placebo effect where people are given something (such as sugar tablets) as part of a “control group” instead of the chemical being tested, and told about the positive effects this tablet will have on them. In a reported number of situations, people have improved their conditions through the effect of thinking that they are being given something to heal them.
A nocebo effect relates to the negative side, where people are given something that should not create any changes and told of the side effects, then experience these. There has even been one reported case of a person involved in an antidepressant clinical drug trial “overdosing” on what he thought was the drug when they were only the control substance (sugar pills etc). Reeves, Ladner, Hart, & Burke (2007) discovered that the patient “experienced hypotension requiring intravenous fluids to maintain an adequate blood pressure until the true nature of the capsules was revealed.” The interesting part is that this man’s symptoms improved quickly once he was told that the tablets were not a drug. You can read the research article or just the extract here. Further research has discovered that the nocebo effect is reported quite frequently. The Smithsonian website has a great article on the Nocebo Effect which I have included for your reference.
Why is this relevant to me?
I can hear you saying, this is all quite interesting but why do I want to know about placebos and nocebos? Scientists and Researchers are only just starting to discover how powerful our mind is where we can either potentially heal or hurt ourselves if we believe that what we are given will have a positive or negative effect on our health. We can agree that research is only just beginning to understand that our thoughts are very powerful indeed. Bringing it back to a Transformational Coaching focus, given the research and outcomes (some of which are mentioned above) of the power of our mind it is critical that every person becomes hyper-vigilant on their own self-limiting beliefs. What are you saying to yourself on a daily or multiple times a day basis? How are you belittling or devaluing yourself? What do you believe? For example, are you a nervous horse rider or say to yourself that you are a terrible rider with such conviction that this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy? This then leads to evidence of poor performance and an even stronger conviction that what you believe is true. This can be applied to whatever self-limiting belief you have. The important thing is to CHANGE YOUR BEHAVIOUR! When you hear yourself thinking or saying a self-limiting belief, STOP yourself! Reword it if you must say something. Maybe instead of a bad or nervous rider, you can say that you are improving your confidence. Say it as many times as you need to truly reinforce and believe it. Use the power of your mind to change!
Let me know how you go!