Mind matters: The ‘placebo effect’ shows that the way we think often affects the way our bodies react


What’s mind? Doesn’t matter. What’s matter? Never mind.

That old exchange sums up the supposed duality, the separation, between what we call the mental and the physical, between the mind and the matter that makes up the tangible world, which includes our bodies.

This separation of mind and matter, the mental and the physical, has often been called into question, as it is once again as a side effect of the coronavirus pandemic and the global search for a vaccine against the pathogen.

Trials, some in advanced stages, are being conducted on a number of vaccines in several countries, and many of them use what is known as the placebo double-blind test to determine the efficacy of the medication.

The placebo test has long been a standard procedure to determine the efficacy of any drug or vaccine. Participants in the trials with a medical condition are split into two groups, one of which is administered the medication while the other group is given a harmless substitute, a placebo.

Neither group of participants, nor those administering the treatment, are told which is the real medication and which is the placebo.

The surprising finding of such trials has been that the medical condition of the group being given the placebo often shows measurable improvement, suggesting that a psychological factor can affect the physical, that the mind and the body are linked in ways we do not fully understand.

Age-old practices like meditation have shown that through the focussing of consciousness, the channelling of mental energy, we cause metabolic and physical changes, such as slowing the heart beat and lowering blood pressure.

So called ‘faith healing’ where ‘miracle’ cures of seemingly incurable disease and disability through the power of prayer and belief have long been dismissed by mainstream science as mumbo-jumbo. But now, thanks to the placebo effect which is widely being used as an investigative tool in the desperate hunt for an antidote to the coronavirus, science might begin to take such therapies more seriously.

Or, to put it more succinctly, mind matters, and matter minds.

DISCLAIMER : This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.

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