My good friend, style guru and sister in law Arty Lady pointed us in the direction of a powerful tv programme about placebo. I was glued to the screen. This is fascinating.
The programme examines how people react to trialling a new powerful medicine, specifically designed to deal with their issues. Great efforts have been made to reinforce the legitimacy and the power of the wonder drug. They don’t know that the medicine is in fact a sugar pill. How do they react? In a nerdy fashion, I took notes.
A positive effect is reinforced by an authority figure (I had a man in a suit), evidence that the ‘drug’ works (same guy) and the fact that it looks like medicine (measuring spoon, instructions, big words).
The response from the participants in Brown’s film is extraordinary. Within minutes of taking their first dose, they are feeling the side effects they’d been warned of. One man, with a crippling fear of heights, went straight away to look down into a huge atrium area from several stories up. His response was immediate.
Particpants were tasked with keeping a video diary recording positive changes they’d noticed; it was all about positive reinforcement “Here’s the nice blue capsule I have to take four times a day…” All recorded good effects. According to Brown, the placebo was giving them permission to behave differently.
Half an hour into the programme I was in tears. A man with a fear of confrontation, and even talking to people, was interviewing strangers on the street and breaking up a (staged) fight. A man too sacred to cross a teeny bridge on his own was standing on the railings on top of a huge viaduct (safety harness provided). When he was there, Brown told him about the placebo- you did this yourself. Oooh, how powerful the mind is.
The placebo was used to deal with fear, allergies, boost intelligence, and to encourage people to stop smoking. The colour of the capsule varied- blue where people needed calmed, red for stimulation.
After a few weeks, all the particpants were brought together and told about the placebo. Most were taken aback but greatly empowered by this news.
It was me. I did it. I can do anything. I have the power.
One of the participants- with an amazing voice but too scared to sing in public- has a surprise at the end of the show, when she sings to a crowded room. Oh, yes, more tears- tv manipulates us all
In my world, I’ve finished my trial pack of ME Relief and the month long supply arrived this morning. Placebo or not, I’m buying into it.
Of course, I needed Spurs Fan to work out how to open the tub for me (twist the lid).
It’s not a cure.