Think yourself ill/better

a long time ago, i read a book by deepak chopra, and the whole idea was, that you can think yourself healthy. is theory was, that since you control your body, you should be able to control your body, even on a cellular level. he backed this up with double blind trails involving cancer patients. one half were told their treatements are working, the other half was told results are inconclusive. even if the actual test results were different.
it turned out, that the group told they were healing, did heal, and went into remission. the other bunch was a mixed bunch of positive and negative results.
he even went to so far as to suggest, that you induce things like heart-attack, etc.

now, hypocondriacs are a well-known bunch of people. my boss is one. i truly believe she makes herself ill. she has more pills and muti’s than i have ever seen. and falls from one woo doctor to the next. then drinks this pill, then that drops… she visits the GP often too. but she is allways tired, and constantly ill. and i honestly think, she makes her animals hypocondriacs as well. she suffers from OCD, so maybe its just part and parcel of who she is.

now, my thinking is then, if you can think yourself ill, then, in theory, you should be able to think yourself healthy? could you convince your body, that you are healthy? i dont know how effective it would be with things like cancer or Aids.
i have often heard of people who are obsessed with a certain disease, eventually getting it. maybe its just the luck of the draw.


If it is possible to go the one way (hypochondriac) then the other should be possible as well.

There might even be some truth in those ‘faith healing’ rackets.
Not because it’s the ‘power of Christ compels you’ but because they actually believe it and that might make it happen.
They always throw ‘success stories’ in your face about so-and-so that was healed from leprosy / aids / ingrown toenails or something similar but it‘s never proven.

The power of the human mind is a weird and wonderful unexplored area.
For all we know there might be some truth behind it.

The power of placebo is a bit of a dilemma for me. On the one hand countless studies have shown that the effect is objectively measurable. On the other hand the ethical implications for doctors if they were to systematically lie to their patients are immeasurable.

It’s a bit of a paradox really; doctors are implicitly trusted, therefore their positive feedback is of high value to a patient. If the doctor were to start giving everyone positive feedback indiscriminately that trust would be eroded and the placebo effect with it.

A quote by the famous physicist Niels Bohr springs to mind: “I hear it works even if you don’t believe in it.” – when asked why he had a horseshoe hanging above his desk.

There is little doubt that a patient’s frame of mind plays a role in how their body copes with disease. The medical fraternity has increasingly come to recognise this, and the idea is inherent in the placebo effect. However, many snake oil merchants take it a few steps too far in claiming that a right frame of mind is sufficient to prevent or even cure illness. That is, there is no evidence to suggest that thought can manipulate the body’s cells individually or influence the course of basic biochemical processes. Such a remarkable claim, whether express or implied, demands overwhelming evidence before it can be accepted as true.

But read what Quackwatch has to say about Deepak Chopra – a delusional New Age nutjob if ever there was one.


It is probably possible to “think” yourself healthy, I “think” I’ve “thunked” a snotty nose out of the equasion every once in a while, but when it comes to aids/cancer and the like, you’re not going to be in that state of mind for too long. If it was possible, then paraplegics would be able to think themselves healed again and garlic would work for aids patients.

My mom’s a hypocondriac as well, and has a variety of pills which comes in handy when someone in my family actually falls ill and I can just go raid her medicine cupboard for muti. She’s constantly sick, and she’s not sick because of physical illness, but because she poisons her own body with all the rubbish she puts into it.

the reason i ended up thinking in this vein, is that our whole office is riddled with a stomach bug. and the runs had hit everybody. except me.
so on friday night, while sleeping next to my boyfriend, every little rumble or squeek of my intestines, had me thinking i would to go racing off to the crapper, and the impending performance will leave my poor lover greenfaced.
it had me jumping off to the loo how many times in the night.
i eventually said to myself, that im going to paranoid myself into a stomach ailment.
nothing happened.
i wonder then, if i had continued to be paranoid, and assume i will be having explosive stomach happenings, would i have ended up with the runs, even if the bug wasnt anywere near me.

quite ironically, i suffer from depression, and had last year, about this time, after reading a bit of Dr Phil book, made a mental choice to be happy.
it was touch and go, but that choice, that decision to stop being miserable, actually worked quite well. sure, i have bad days, but the more i embraced the idea of, well, technically giving a frack, the happier i became. could allso be that i realised i was co-dependant, and regocnising badhabits.
but, in all, i think that, that the decision i made, to not be depressed, has flipped some switch in my head.
i could attribute it all to my new lover, but a few months into a relationship, im ready to commit blood murder, and so far, life is peachy.

I think there’s a clear distinction between physical and psychological health effects. While depression has a physical component, such as serotonin production in the brain, there is little doubt that the cause is often deeply psychological.

The stomach bug thing, being of such short and unclear nature, could have many causes and would be intrinsically linked to your behaviour ie. staying in bed and not eating out of fear of triggering it could affect the outcome, as could any number of conscious and subconscious decisions during that period.

On a slightly different note I think it’s incredible how many people in SA cling to the notion that a cold is somehow directly linked to fresh air and being cold. I endured extremely cold, uncomfortable winters at school because the teachers insisted on keeping all doors and windows open at all times. It’s caused by a virus and that’s that!

Certain physical ailments like warts and blisters can be caused and cured by hypnotism so there is a link between the mind and the body.

The stigmatic nut jobs who bleed from the hands, feet, side and thorns round the head are all hysterics. The stigmatics normally bleed according to the wounds shown on their local church crucifex. Again mind over matter. You also get hysterical paralysis, blindness etc.

Type A personalities suffer more from heart attacks than other personality types but they have a better recovery rate because a type A will do all the things that the doctor recommends. Other personality types let their diets and exercises slide and vrek.

A depressive’s attitude has a big effect on their condition. The ones who lie in bed in a dark room get it worse. The ones who force themselves to get up, get exercise and light, which improves their serotonin levels which makes a difference to their state.

As to thinking yourself sick it is quite easy. Every time you clench your sphincter at the the thought of the runs your stomach gets upset and you can give yourself the runs that way.

Most sick days are taking on Tuesdays which hints that people think that they can mentally overcome a bug. They have a lousy Monday and the bug drags them down now matter how cheerful they are.

Masochists love being sick - it is a fun hobby swapping prescriptions and herbal remedies. The persons they love most in their lives are doctors and chemists. Instead of stamp collecting they collect pills and potions.

As to you and your runs that you didn’t get. Maybe you are another Typhoid Mary. People dropping like flies around you while you gleefully spread the germs. More likely you got the cleanest cup or you washed your hands at the right time.

Can you cite a credible source that confirms this statement? Ditto several others in your post.

Actually, it was found in all stigmata cases that were reliably investigated that the observed wounds were always entirely consistent with physical self-infliction by assorted means, including pens, sharp corners, hairpins, etc. I refer you to chapter 44 of Joe Nickell’s 2001 book Real-Life X-Files where the phenomenon is examined at length.


Hi Luthon64

My Source for the Stigmata is Arthur C. Clarke’s World of Strange Powers. I don’t have a tv set and only have the book. He only covered the stigmatics who had had their hands sealed in glass tubes etc. to stop self mutilation. I can only find a reference to the tv series no doubt you can do better on the net.

The hysterical blindness and paralysis - you can find in Sigmund Freud’s biographies. Only a very small percentage of “mental” patients had hysterical symptoms.

The blisters and warts being under mental control:

There is mention in Arthur C Clarke’s documentary of blisters appearing and disapearing when someone was regressed to the point where they had a rope burn.

I can’t find my book that mentioned the experiments on an hysterically blinded soldier in the First World War. I think it may have been mentioned by Brigadier Crozier - but I am not going to search my house for the volume. I have had a quick look on the interney

Both warts and blisters were mentioned in Frederic W. H. Myers’s Humian Personality (abridged edition 1907)and Dr. Toussaint Bartlhelemv’s Ettude sutr le Dermograp)hisme ou Dermoneurose Toxivasomotrice (Paris, 1893).

The report of experiments where a hypnotised soldier blistered when a thermometer was pressed agains his arm and he was told the thermometer was boiling hot is in the BMJ SATURDAY, MAY 26TH, 1917.

Other articles that seem to come from “respectable” sources are:
In the paragraph/section “The Pathology of the Signaling Skin.” You just have to avoid the trick cyclist claptrap and concentrate on the actual skin reactions.

Here is a very conservative overview of various experiments

The Type A personalities were in a Newsweek Article about 11 years ago. here is a link to a summary of the findings.

Depression and light and exercise:

Okay, thanks. I questioned this because I have never heard of any GP or dermatologist prescribing hypnosis for the treatment of warts, and (recurrent) blisters are usually indicative of a deeper pathology. It is now clear that you meant these anomalous observations as unusual possibilities rather than as common occurrences.

The other statements that I was particularly interested in seeing corroborated are, “Every time you clench your sphincter at the the thought of the runs your stomach gets upset and you can give yourself the runs that way” and “Most sick days are taking on Tuesdays which hints that people think that they can mentally overcome a bug.


Hi All, I’m new at this and hope I’m posting in the correct place.

I recently discovered that there’s a bit of truth to the “keep warm or you’ll catch a cold” old wives’ tale.

Apparently, the flu virus is more infectious in cold temperatures because the virus’s outer covering hardens to a protective rubbery gel, allowing person to person transmission via coughing, sneezing etc. Once in the respiratory tract, the warmer environment causes the covering to melt, so that the virus can infect the cells of its new host,

In warmer air temperatures, the virus loses its protective layer so it is no longer protected from the elements and doesn’t survive person to person transmission.

Check out: (sorry - not a live link because I don’t know how to do that).

So the advice is sound, even though those old wives’ reasoning was a tad faulty.

Cool! It works! The link IS live. :slight_smile: Happy newbie.

Hello Lurkie, and welcome to this fine forum. :wink:

Very interesting first post!


That’s an interesting article, but it is only one of several theories that try to explain the seasonal variations of flu infections.

I do think they overstate their case a bit, however, as it is easy to find examples of the virus being spread during warm temperatures. Northern hemisphere indoor environments where people spend most of their time during winter are usually very nice, warm and cosy – not much human interaction takes place outside in the freezing temperatures. Personally I think the other factors commonly cited (more time spent indoors, drier air (less healthy mucous membranes), increased travel, etc.) have more of an effect.

In any case, keeping the doors and windows open in the classroom on a cold Pretoria morning while only providing pathetic acrylic school issue jerseys in an attempt to prevent sickness is both sadistic and stupid! >:D

The essential point, though, is that colder temperatures increase the virus’s transmissibility and therefore temperature does play a role in the spread of the common cold. It may well be only a minor factor which doesn’t negate all of the other contributory ones, but it certainly does put the lie to the claim that it is merely an old wives’ tale that keeping warm will help avoid catching a cold.


maybe its allso a case of, when your body is warm, it doesnt have to expend as much energy to try and keep functionality at optimum, and it can spend resources on fighting bacteria and viruses.
when you are cold, and your body has to create heat by making your shiver, and whatnot, resources needed to create antibodies, is pretty thinly streched.
on the other hand, when a whole bunch of people are in an office, and germs are circulated in the stale air and via the aircon, then everyone pick up the bugs. whereas when one would have a window open, the fresh air would thin out the germ to air ratio a bit.

dunno, just a thought.

A little more googling has revealed some more interesting flu facts.

Looks like absolute humidity is also pretty influential (he, he, silly pun I can’t resist). The higher the amount of water vapour in the air, the worse the chances of airborne flu virus survival. Exactly why this is still up for debate.

A sauna a day keeps the doctor away!

Welcome Lurkie. The “outer gel” theory still has nothing to do with “keeping warm” in cold temperatures. The virus will react the same to your body temperature whether you are dressed warmly or not. So the old wives tale remains false - wearing a jersey still does not determine whether you contract the flu virus. If you catch it, you catch it, whether you are dressed warmly or not.

With everything else being equal, you are at higher risk of catching the flu in a cold environment than in a warm one, given this new knowledge about the virus and how temperature affects its transmissibility. Ergo, there is a little bit of truth to the “old wives’ tale.” Wearing a jersey, or not, when going into a cold environment obviously doesn’t come into it, whereas staying in a warm one does.

But let’s look at how this topic originally arose.

Now if that same environment had instead been comfortably warm, still with a good supply of fresh air, the likelihood of flu transmission would have been lower. That’s the point.