Guided Imagery on cracking the placebo code

Good luck, Placebos and crossing your fingers!

altWhat’s a placebo have to do with guided imagery? Have you ever wondered if crossing your fingers is good luck especially when your doctor does it? Do you care? Is the placebo effect a vital force in a complex system that can be tapped into? And how do we put a face on its value and healing in light of evidence-based medicine? Is there a role to be played through guided imagery, a deeper visual vocabulary, or a metaphoric iconic symbol?  Appreciating that many friends have short windows to engage in such topics and others needing more there is a summary in the final paragraph for those of you who are inclined to right brain material. Interested, then start by reading a few lines from this NY Times review!

What’s luck got to do with it? Mindful healing

In preparing for this blog on the placebo I was reading in the 8/29 NY Times book review section, Melanie Thernstrom’s (The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries) where she recalled an interaction she once had which has stayed with her and is recounted in her book  “I had gone to the clinic early in the morning for a test that would reveal the treatment I had undergone with this doctor had succeeded. As I was leaving the clinic, I glimpsed the doctor across the reception desk, on the far side of the room. He held up his hands, crossed his fingers. He was wishing me luck, reminding me the treatment was over, my faith was now up to chance, for (powerful though he was in my mind) he did not possess the kind of power that determines lab results. But he was also telling me that he had hoped that chance went my way". The reviewer noted in the article" The Pain Chronicles"

“ if you don't believe your physician understands your pain, why bother with the monstrous physical therapy and countless pills she prescribes? Those skeptical of many alternative therapies (researchers found most of them to work as placebos) Thernstrom noted the practitioners’ force of personality. “They all possess some kind of personal power; they knew how to invoke belief, and their patients actually followed their suggestions,” she writes. Anyone can deliver prognosis or relay facts, but not everyone can persuade a mind to believe the body can heal. The review's ends by stating, “There is no simple recipe for healing. Yes some people including Thernstrom herself learn to manage medication or train their brains to modulate the perception of pain through neuroimaging. Their successes, recounted so meticulously here, will surely prove useful to others. But "The Pain Chronicles" is no mere self-help manual. It's a sophisticated, elegant compiled treatise.”

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