If We Can’t Have Affordable Health Care Then Maybe We Should Try The Placebo Effect?
I know, I know, this posting has a long title. I didn’t know how else to entitle it and give a positive spin on the great health care debate coupled with a “possible” alternate solution. There are two reasons why I wanted to write this post. The first was an inner desire to find an alternate and positive answer to at least part of our health care problem that is currently being debated by our nation. The second is the recent death of Dr. O. Carl Simonton, a radiation oncologist who popularized the mind-body connection in fighting cancer and helped push the once-controversial notion into mainstream medicine.
Dr. Simonton’s well-known work with cancer patients demonstrated the power of positive thinking and how it can help with the fight against the horrible health care problem of cancer. He would have his patients spend fifteen minutes, twice a day, vividly picturing their white blood cells attacking the undesirable cancer cells. He emphasized the power of positive imagery.
Studies have shown that cancer patients who believe that radiation therapy will help them are more likely to benefit from it. That is, they will experience more benefit than those who think it will provide no help, or actually be harmful toward their cure. This is just another part to the placebo effect. Studies have shown time and time again that patients have improved from many different ailments when given a sugar pill that they thought was a powerful medicine designed to help cure them of their particular health problem.
This Placebo Effect is interesting. I have often said that when whatever I’m taking or doing seems to help with a cure for a personal ailment and, if it’s the “placebo effect,” I don’t care. It worked! I think we often need a “placebo” to help our mind aid us in the fight against problems of the body. It’s too easy for an ailing body to make us think that we are too weak to fight. We just want it to go away on its own.
The determination in our mind to live a good life and be as healthy as we can should never be underestimated. It has made the difference between life and death for many. The power of the mind is often underestimated. What we think and believe affects our bodies, our chemistries and even our desire to live.
Negative thinking can turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. This is something that I have had to fight throughout my life. I remember times when I would think about failing, felt I was failing during…, and realized that I failed after. Everything was based on negativity. This was typical in my earlier days of playing baseball. I remember preparing to bat. I would think about striking out, with each swing I felt I was striking out and of course, I struck out most of the time. :-( Later on, I did get much better at not striking out by imagining the ball hitting the bat with every swing I took. In fact, I would hardly ever strike out after using that type of positive thinking, but I would usually somehow make an out. :-) Oh, well!
So, how can this help us with the health care problem? Let’s encourage the use of “placebos.” By placebos, in this case, I mean the use of positive thinking. “Socialized Medicine” is being used as a negative term. Changed the name to something that is more American, like “Democratized Medicine.” After all, no matter what kind of health care reform we end up with, it will be America’s plan and since we are a democracy, why not start referring to is as “Democratized Medicine?” Another idea in the spirit of using a placebo, is to have all doctors help their patients with positive imagery. Just mentioning it each time a patient and doctor are together would be an improvement over what we have and shouldn’t increase the cost of health care – yet it might increase the quality of it.
As you can most likely determine by now, I am tired of the negativity in our health care reform debate. We need to think of ALL AMERICANS and positively improve on what we currently have. Too many Americans are taking sugar pills and they know they are sugar pills. They are not experiencing the placebo effect.