BY KATHLEEN BARNES
Most of us are familiar with the placebo effect, when actual healing occurs after the only prescription a patient ingests is a sugar pill that the individual believes is medicine.
Researcher and Chiropractor Joe Dispenza, of Olympia, Washington, knows the value of the placebo effect from personal experience. When his spine shattered during a 1986 triathlon race as his bicycle was hit by an SUV, he had a good mental picture of what had happened. Consulting doctors proclaimed a bleak prognosis and offered a risky surgical procedure as his only chance of walking again.
He left the hospital against the advice of his physicians and spent the next three months mentally-and physically-reconstructing his spine. His story is one of hope for healing for others, detailed in his latest book, You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter.
How did your pivotal healing take place?
For two hours twice a day, I went within and began creating a picture of my intended result: a totally healed spine. Nine-and-a-half weeks after the accident, I got up and walked back into my life fully recovered—without having had a body cast or surgeries. I resumed my chiropractic practice 10 weeks out and was training and lifting weights again while continuing my rehabilitation regimen at 12 weeks. Now, in the nearly 30 years since the accident, I can honestly say that I rarely experience any back pain.
How does your approach differ from mind over matter?
It’s the same. So many people have been conditioned into believing that mind and body are separate things. There is never a time when the mind isn’t influencing the body and vice versa. The combination is what I call a state of being.
How does the placebo effect work?
Think about the idea of giving somebody a sugar pill, saline solution or a false surgery. A certain percentage of those people will accept, believe and surrender—without analysis—to the “thought” that they are receiving the real substance or treatment. As a result, they’ll program their autonomic nervous systems to manufacture the exact same pharmacy of drugs to match the real substance or treatment. They can make their own antidepressants and painkilling medicines. Healing is not something that takes place outside of you.
Can you cite examples of disease in which self-healing has been scientifically validated?
There is amazing power in the human mind. Some people’s thoughts heal them; some have made them sick and sometimes even hastened their death.
In the first chapter of You Are the Placebo, I tell a story about one man who died after being told he had cancer, even though an autopsy revealed he’d been misdiagnosed. A woman plagued by depression for decades improved dramatically and permanently during an antidepressant drug trial, despite the fact that she was in the placebo group. A handful of veterans that participated in a Baylor University study, formerly hobbled by osteoarthritis, were miraculously cured by fake knee surgeries. Plus, scientists have seen sham coronary bypass surgeries that resulted in healing for 83 percent of participants (New England Journal of Medicine). A study of Parkinson’s disease from the University of British Columbia measured better motor coordination for half of the patients after a placebo injection. They were all healed by thought alone. The list goes on.
I’ve personally witnessed many people heal themselves using the same principles of the placebo response, once they understood how, from cancers, multiple sclerosis, lupus, thyroid conditions and irritable bowel syndrome.
How can an ordinary person make that quantum leap and find healing?
Many of us are now recognizing that rather than live in the past, we can create our own future. It requires changing some longstanding conditioned beliefs and the willingness to step into an unfamiliar, uncomfortable, unpredictable state that is consistent with living in the unknown. This happens to be the perfect place from which to create change.
I recommend a meditation that creates physiological changes in the brain and at the cellular level, from 45 to 60 minutes a day. Changing Beliefs and Perceptions meditations are available on my website or individuals can record themselves reading the texts printed in the back of my book.
As we exchange self-limiting beliefs we begin to embody new possibilities.
Joe Dispenza is chairman of Life University Research Council and a faculty member for the International Quantum University for Integrative Medicine, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies and Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Visit DrJoeDispenza.com.
Connect with natural health books author Kathleen Barnes at KathleenBarnes.com.