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The Nocebo Effect

By on March 11, 2015
Picture courtesy of marin and

You may have heard of the nocebo effect. Is similar to the placebo effect, but has negative consequences. Is sometimes called ‘voodoo hypnosis’ because it can put a ‘curse’ someone who is in a trance when listening to a negative suggestion.

And who better to put a person into trance than a doctor or medical professional wearing a white coat. After all, people tend to listen to a doctor’s suggestion is something that absolutely must be followed. As long as a doctor is giving you positive suggestions for your health, this sort of ‘white-coat-hypnosis’ is a powerful force for good. If a doctor has told a client that they have to stop smoking, or lose weight, it doesn’t mean they will but it can be a strong external pressure towards changing their behavior.

The problem comes when a doctor shifts into giving negative suggestions while his patience is in ‘white-coat-hypnosis’. A great example of when this can happen is when a doctor is describing the side effects of medication. When a doctor in a white coat suggest that, “You may experience…” the patient’s unconscious mind is likely to take that as a direct suggestion of what they should experience. That’s why patients taking a particular medication are more likely to experience the side effects of that medication when they are told by a doctor that they may experience it than if they are not informed side effects.

Of course, we’re not saying the doctor shouldn’t inform his or her patients about potential side effects. But it may be better if these are not structured as suggestions, but rather as things that could take place but probably won’t.

In any case, if you want further proof of the amazing power of the unconscious mind here is a link to the research regarding the nocebo effect in the context of medicinal side effects:

BBC – Future – How a doctors words can make you ill

A good bedside manner can help heal the body, but if doctors don’t choose their words carefully, they can also make you unwell. He says he has some bad news and the knees are worn out due to osteoarthritis; the drugs help a bit but they may damage the lining of the stomach, he says. The problem with the way I sold it, was that it validated your concerns that your knees falling apart, its crumbling, youre doomed, says Porter. BBC – Future – How a doctors words can make you ill

Picture courtesy of marin and

Shawn Carson and the CafeHypno Editorial Team

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