Powerfully Psychosomatic

As part of her TED talk, Tessa Rankin MD tells this story:
Mr. Wright, who was suffering from late-stage cancer, asked for a specific drug to cure his tumors, and when he used it, he got better. Later, he read that the drug was not effective, and his tumors returned. When the doctor realized what happened, he injected Mr. Wright with saline and told him that it was a better concentrate of the drug. Lo and behold, Mr. Wright was cured again. But later, when he read that the drug was absolutely ineffective, he died.

This case depicts the placebo effect- a phenomenon where people can get better without the intervention or procedure. And it also demonstrates the nocebo effect- where a person thinks something bad is going to happen and it does.

Dr. Rankin states that the placebo effect is direct evidence of the body’s innate self-repair mechanisms, and the power of the mind/body connection. It is estimated that when fake drugs or treatments are given for a study, 18-80% of the time they yield measurable results in the body. The Institute of Noetic Sciences has a database of approximately 3500 cases studies where there was healing in seemingly incurable instances.

Before I worked through my pelvic pain, when an illness was labeled psychosomatic, I thought the condition was just caused by a person’s mind and therefore it was suspect and not really valid. But then I directly experienced how the connection between my body/mind/spirit contributed to my illness, and also helped me to reverse it. The more I appreciated the power of this connection between my mind and body, the more I could use it to help me heal.