Now as I wrote in the blog about placebo I mentioned that one way in which a placebo effect is created has to do with conditioning. And I promised you that I would write a separate blog about that.
As I wrote in that blog about placebo the other two ways in which a placebo effect is created are expectation and meaning. So if you haven’t read that blog yet, you can click here to go straight to it!
Now, without further ado, let’s talk conditioning!
When you move the couch in your livingroom to another corner of the room after having it on the same spot for many years, in the beginning you will probably automatically walk to the old spot to go sit on your couch. Just because you are so used to your couch being on that spot. You are CONDITIONED to walk to that spot because you have repeated that pattern many times.
When you have a few days or weeks of pain in your back when you get out of bed in the morning, a pattern starts to form. The more often this pattern is being repeated, the stronger the pattern becomes. It becomes conditioning.
Now, as in the last example with the back pain, if you start having this back pain and you had it for a few days in the morning as soon as you woke up you start for example thinking it must be your mattress.
So you have given the MEANING to the mattress that it is causing you backpain. (nocebo response)
Now since you have been having this backpain for a few days every morning when you woke up, you start EXPECTING it the next morning too.
Because as soon as you wake up, the first thing you do is check how your back is doing.
So as explained in my previous blog, next to conditioning, the other 2 elements that work to create the placebo response are expectation and meaning. But it works the same way for the nocebo response.
Now when we zoom in more into the conditioning part of the placebo and nocebo response…
On the first day that you wake up with back pain, as soon as you feel this pain for the very first time, you react in a certain way. This creates all kinds of physiological responses in the body.
This experience creates a memory.
Now everytime you think about this incident (which means you are reproducing the same level of mind) you produce the same chemical changes in your brain and body.
Your body acts as your unconscious mind, it doesn’t know the difference between the actual event in your life that created the emotional state and the emotions you created by thought alone when you remember the event.
In a sense, you repeatedly reaffirm the past and continue the conditioning process further.
So we are at the point that you have given MEANING to the mattress being the cause of your pain. You are EXPECTING in the morning to feel the pain. And you are repeatedly reaffirming the past to keep the CONDITIONING process going.
The nocebo response is pain every morning.
And so this nocebo response of pain every morning is formed by your MEANING, your EXPECTATION and your CONDITIONING.
In my previous blog about nocebo, you could read about how our thoughts affect us and can cause damage or make you sick.
And then after that in my placebo blog, you could read about that we also have the ability to make ourselves better with our thoughts.
So if you want to get rid of this nocebo response of pain, you will have to change the MEANING, EXPECTATION and CONDITIONING.
The process of it is actually reversing the nocebo, not through a placebo drug or placebo treatment, but simply by using the power of the mind to heal the body.
Change starts with a thought. Because changing your thoughts, changes your choices, which changes your behaviors, which changes your experiences, which changes your emotions. And these new emotions and feelings should inspire you to think in new ways. And your personal reality and your biology—your brain circuitry, your internal chemistry, your genetic expression, and ultimately your health—should change as a result of this new personality, this new state of being.
But it all starts with a new thought. Your belief or disbelief will determine whether or not something works.
Your yesterday becomes your tomorrow—so in truth, your past is your future.
Dr. Joe Dispenza explains this whole process way more extensive and very detailed in his book ‘You are the placebo’. I can highly recommend reading this book and all his other books which are also amazing. Dr. Joe Dispenza is one of my favorite neuroscientists.