Self-experimentation and Placebo effect

This post is a copy of a comment that I posted on Tim Ferriss’blog : “The Value of Self-Experimentation [Plus: Extreme Videos – Do Not Try This At Home]“, a guest post of Dr. Seth Roberts.

Please, read the original post (very interesting !) before the comment…

My comment :

Hi !

Firstly, I would like to apologize for my bad english. I’m not a native English speaker…

It’s a great post ! Very interesting. But I just think that we can’t disregard the placebo effect. Actually, I prefer the term of “self fullfiling prophecy”: if I really believe in something, it will probably happen.

Example : If I truly believe that this day will be a bad day, because my horoscope says that and I believe in astrology, this day will be a bad day ! (Several reasons : one is the Reticular Activating System and the idea of selective attention. We select and interpret facts and events during the day that confirm our expectations about a bad day). And it’s 100% true ! Everytime I think that it will be a bad day, it will be a bad day…

Another example, more relevant : An experiment of Dr. Henry Beecher in the science of psychoneuroimmunology (a science that I discovered thanks to Robb Wolf and “The Paleo Solution” !). Two groups of people : one group is given a capsule with barbiturate (a tranquilizer) but are told that it’s a stimulant in the capsule; another group is given a capsule with amphetamine (a stimulant) but are told it’s a tranquilizer in the capsule. The half of each group developed physical reactions that went along with their expectations : they felt stimulated with barbiturate and tranquilized with amphetamine ! It means that the mind is stronger than the body.

And it opens the huge field of self-experimentation about the relation between the mind and the body. If I’m truly convinced that I can sleep better with a mix of amphetamine and cafeine, and I want to prove it, i can sleep better with a mix of amphetamine and cafeine !

But there is a problem : it’s very difficult to “choose” to believe (in a kind of Blaise Pascal’s Wager = even if you’re not sure that the drug works, you choose to believe in it, because you have nothing to loose)

Nevertheless, all that is a huge field of (self-)experimentation, and knowing how to use the self fullfiling prophecy can be a very strong tool to improve health and performance !

I will publish a copy of this comment on my blog, so I hope that i can drive traffic to your website (of course, I know that you don’t need it, but I hope that readers of my blog will read your article and participate at the discussion).

I have ordered the “4 Hour Body” on, but in Belgium, I still have to wait one or two week to receive it. Can’t wait 😉

Yves Patte

Thanks to Tim Ferriss for publishing my comment.

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