The proof was there, staring at Brady Matthews in the face. One photograph showed the patient grimacing in pain; the other photo showed her completely at peace, and it was taken only minutes after she took the new pill. Brady was impressed by the seemingly miraculous power of the new medication, which promised an end to migraine headaches. He is a recent university graduate and got his job as a pharmaceutical sales rep six months ago. This was his first sales meeting and he was excited by the Marketing Manager's presentation. Brady couldn't wait to spread the news about the new medication to all the doctors in his territory.
Dr. Addison was usually uncomfortable whenever his patient, Mr. Guymer stepped into his office. After all, Anthony Guymer was a chronic sufferer of migraine headaches and nothing Dr. Addison prescribed for him offered any relief. But today was different, for Dr. Addison had recently received samples of a new drug from his enthusiastic sales rep, Brady Matthews.
Dr. Addison was smiling as he said, "Well, Mr. Guymer, I think I have something that will help you at last. I want you to try this new medication that has done wonders for other migraine sufferers. Get back to me with the results."
Well, Dr. Addison didn't have to wait long, for just an hour-and-a-half later Mr. Guymer called his doctor's office. Speaking to the receptionist, he said, "This is Anthony Guymer. Please tell Dr. Addison the new medication he gave me is amazing. My migraine is completely gone. Please book an appointment for next Wednesday for me, as I want to get some more pills."
Since the middle 50's, doctors have been studying the Placebo Effect. Over the years they learned how patients' symptoms could be relieved by dummy, sugar pills. Roughly one-third of the patients taking dummy pills received the same benefits offered by actual medication. In fact, their bodies experienced the same physiological changes, whether the pills were real or placebos.
So, it's not surprising, that Dr. Addison was wondering whether the remarkable benefit experienced by Mr. Guymer were due to the medication or to the Placebo Effect. He decided to experiment. He had his friend, the next door pharmacist, make up a bottle of dummy pills identical in appearance to the new medication. When Mr. Guymer arrived on Wednesday, Dr. Addison said, "Here you are, Mr. Guymer. I'm glad the pills helped. Here is another week's supply. Stay in touch."
About an hour-and-a-half after leaving the office, Mr. Guymer called. He sounded desperate. "I'm in great pain. I've got to talk to Dr. Addison immediately." After being connected, Mr. Guymer explained, "Doctor, I don't know what went wrong, but the pills are not working. I'm in great pain. Is there something you can do?"
Feeling guilty for switching the pills and not wanting to admit what he had done, Dr. Addison needed time to think, so he said, "Where are you now? At work? Okay, let me check things out at our end and I'll call you back in ten minutes." Ten minutes later, Dr. Addison was speaking to his patient, "I apologize, Mr. Guymer, by mistake I gave you an earlier batch of the pills. It was an older version, made before they perfected the new formula. To prevent any more mistakes, I've thrown out the old pills, and if you come over, I will give you a fresh supply of the new ones."
Mr. Guymer arrived to collect his pills. He opened the bottle at once and took a pill. After just a few minutes, he was feeling fine again. Doctor and patient were relieved. Mr. Guymer thanked his doctor and left for work. Dr. Addison was so impressed by the effectiveness of the medication that he decided to call the pharmaceutical company and place an order.
When he reached the Order Desk, he was told, "I'm sorry, Dr. Addison, but that product is not being offered yet because it is still undergoing testing. You see, half of our sales reps are distributing the new product and the other half are distributing placebos. We haven't told the sales reps what we're doing because if they knew, it may influence the results of the test. Your sales rep is Brady Matthews, isn't it? Well, according to my computer, he is distributing placebos!"
Well, what happened here? First, Brady Matthews was swayed by the powerful presentation made by his marketing manager and BELIEVED the samples he got were genuine wonder drugs. His enthusiasm and belief swayed Dr. Addison who BELIEVED the pills might indeed help his patient. Influenced by Dr. Addison's conviction, Mr. Guymer BELIEVED the pills would help him. And they did because WE GET WHAT WE EXPECT.
But why did the pills stop working when Dr. Addison switched the placebos of the sales rep with his own placebos? The difference is Dr. Addison KNEW his pills were fake. He now had doubts about the possible effectiveness of his own pills. On a subconscious level, Mr. Guymer was able to pick up the DOUBTS of his doctor. Perhaps it was the change in demeanor of Dr. Addison, his lack of enthusiasm, or the way he averted looking direct into the eyes of his patient. At any rate, something told Mr. Guymer the pills may not work, and they did not.
Yet, on Wednesday, when Dr. Addison replaced his placebos with what he BELIEVED to be highly effective medication, both he and his patient EXPECTED the migraine to end, which it promptly did. Can you see why Norman Cousins (1915 ~ 1990) said, "Drugs are not always necessary, but BELIEF in recovery always is."
The above story, and there are countless others available to researchers, clearly proves the body can heal itself. It also shows the power of BELIEF and EXPECTATION. We all have FAITH. But, too often, we have faith in the wrong things. Don't make the same mistake that Mr. Guymer did by placing your faith in pills, for if you later read somewhere that the pills you take are ineffective, your faith will be shattered and the pills will stop working.
Rather than putting your faith in pills or some other treatment, put your faith in the unshakable truth that your body can heal itself. Do whatever you can to remain healthy. Exercise and eat properly. And when medical treatment is warranted, take it, but place your faith in your body's power to heal itself. KNOW you will be healed. EXPECT to be healed, and always remain positive. Of course, someday death will come our way, but by always remaining positive we will get the most from life. For as the Chinese proverb says, "If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come." Also, keep in mind the advice of Henry James (1843 ~ 1916), "Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your BELIEF will help create the fact."
Our faith or beliefs influence every area of our lives, not just our health. If we're unhappy where we're heading, it's time to change our beliefs and expectations. Dr. Maxwell Maltz (1927 ~ 2003) sums it up this way, "Within you right now is the power to do things you never dreamed possible. This power becomes available to you just as soon as you can change your BELIEFS."
Need I say any more?
© Chuck Gallozzi
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