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Controling the Placebo Effect

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Controling the Placebo Effect
Answer
7/19/14 1:25 AM
Hello

I've been reading the section of the Visuddhimagga on supernormal powers. If all that is true, I think it's theoretically possible that a person who is extremely proficient with jhanas can understand how the placebo effect works in their minds and take advantage of it. Wouldn't that be the ultimate medicinal psychic power? I mean, aside from infectious diseases, all other diseases could be controled, or even cured, by the person with that psychic power!

If this makes any sense and if someone is willing to try it, tell us how it went.

Best wishes!

RE: Controling the Placebo Effect
Answer
7/19/14 2:07 PM as a reply to Blue Jay.
Robert Anton Wilson writes extensively on this topic in Prometheus Rising. He relates it to what he and Leary called the Neurosomatic Circuit. The term 'placebo effect' isn't used because the effect is more general and common than the term lets on.

5. The Holistic Neurosomatic Circuit. This is imprinted by
ecstatic experience, via biological or chemical yogas. It process-
es neurosomatic ("mind-body") feedback loops, somatic-sensory
bliss, feeling "high," "faith-healing," etc. Christian Science, NLP
and holistic medicine consist of tricks or gimmicks to get this
circuit into action at least temporarily; Tantra yoga is concerned
with shifting consciousness entirely into this circuit.
...
The neurosomatic skill of transmuting all experi-
ence, so that one is high and happy in a situation where the four-
circuited majority would be miserable, is worth learning for the
very simple, egotistic reason that it's more fun to be happy than
to be in agony. It is also socially beneficial, because, as Tim
Leary often said, "You can't do good until you feel good." Just
as misery loves company, the high and happy want everybody
else to be high and happy. (This first lesson the fifth-circuit adept
has to learn is to control this upsurge of altruism and not make a
nuisance of oneself by trying to force everybody to be happy...)
The Rationalist is even more alarmed by the results of pro-
longed fifth-circuit bliss, which includes the ability to heal a
wide variety of diseases both in oneself and in others. Even the
well documented current research on endorphins—which gives
us the beginning of a neuro-chemical explanation of how such
healings operate—is regarded with discomfort or hostility by the
more robotized Rationalists. It all sounds "metaphysical" and
therefore it cannot exist.

RE: Controling the Placebo Effect
Answer
7/20/14 12:31 AM as a reply to Blue Jay.
Blue Jay:
Hello

I've been reading the section of the Visuddhimagga on supernormal powers. If all that is true, I think it's theoretically possible that a person who is extremely proficient with jhanas can understand how the placebo effect works in their minds and take advantage of it. Wouldn't that be the ultimate medicinal psychic power? I mean, aside from infectious diseases, all other diseases could be controled, or even cured, by the person with that psychic power!

If this makes any sense and if someone is willing to try it, tell us how it went.

Best wishes!
This reminds me of the Girimananda Sutta, basically Girimananda is diseased and is instructed to train in the Ten Perceptions, and he abandons his disease.  Simple , Huh?

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an10/an10.060.than.html

Also, and related, due to synchronicity, this topic came up at work , and my co-worker spoke about psychoneuroimmunology and meditating monks who were being studied that had the power to not become sick. There is a ton of information out there about psychoneuroimmunolgy, not sure how much is conclusive as it is still relatively new to the scientific method, but seems to have been around for thousands of years in Tao, Tai Chi, Buddhism, etc. etc.

Personally, one can notice the though interplay cycle of "sickness" coming on when it tries to start up that makes the mind/body sick, it is mostly the Ego's excuse to be slothful and lazy, generally because the mind/body system is over worked, underslept , and/or undernourished, or relating to stress in the outside environment as if it was stress on the inside environment, (delusion).

Also, in my view, this is all thrown out the window, when either an important organ in the body is impaired or breaks down, or there is an invasion of a viral, bacterial, or parasitic nature.  Then, time is needed, for the mind/body to overcome the  illness, or die tryin'.  

Oh yeah, don't forget, go to the Doctor!

Peace , Psi Phi

RE: Controling the Placebo Effect
Answer
7/20/14 12:51 AM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Hey Droll, thanks for postin' this I'm a big R.A.W. fan!!  The Neurosomatic circuit sounds very, very  similar to the mastery of Buddha's Formula of Right Effort, which I am sure everyone is tired of me posting here.  It seems that Buddha's advice is explained in such practical terms that it loses much of the luster and allure, when in reality the teachings can be unfathomable and otherwordly.

The practice of the Right Effort Formula is actually at and only at this NeuroSomatic level, most think it is something else entirely, or are just stuck in the mental world of words.

I would also like to add that it seems that there is a time that one not only notices sensations in an equanimous manner, but that one starts to work on changing the mind/body with intention.  Any spiritual path has to have intention, right?  Otherwise we just train to be like a boulder and let reality flow around us, but then we just become boulders.  Not, that being that unshakeable would be a bad thing, but...

Anyway, I'll have to take a re-observation of the 8 circuit model

Cool

Psi Phi

RE: Controling the Placebo Effect
Answer
7/20/14 1:13 AM as a reply to Blue Jay.
Paweł K:
I practice those things. Best result so far I had was stopping runny nose last winter. So far I haven't got occasion to try it again as it never returned. Will see this winter. I can also tweak my pain threshold up or down, globally or locally (disable pain if its not too strong). And lastly slow down perception of time. Speeding it up is harder...

Its all placebo, just dwelling in it way too much confuse mind into believing it is real and I do dwell in it too much.
I doubt it will be popular topic. Lots of people on DhO who are much more likely to fall for placebo than control it...

Wait a minute, if you are experiencing something, whether it is a placebo effect or not, the phenomenon are both real.  You don't have to believe if phenomenon is real or not, it is what it is, as you know.  If time slows down, then your perception is speeding up, that is as real as when your perception slows down, and time speeds up.

If it's all placebo, maybe our normal thoughts and view points are also a placebo, the dullness, normal , daily , life placebo, that most of us take as "normal" life.  What if the consensus view of reality is false, and is a delusion?  Just a made up make-believe world , no more real than the placebo reality???

What if speeding up and slowing down the perception of time is the reality, and a constant sense of time is a delusion?

What if experiencing pain without being able to turn the pain volume up or down is a delusion, and adjusting the  pain is the reality?

What if half of the illnesses in the world are dreamy illusions of the mind, and the placebo effect works, not because it is an illusion, but because it breaks the spell of the illusion?

Sci fi

RE: Controling the Placebo Effect
Answer
7/21/14 5:12 AM as a reply to Blue Jay.
Shamans have been harnessing this power for about 60,000 years or so. It's nothing new, and in fact it's much older and better tested than most techniques of modern medicine. 

RE: Controling the Placebo Effect
Answer
7/21/14 11:41 AM as a reply to Blue Jay.
[If it's all placebo, maybe our normal thoughts and view points are also a placebo, the dullness, normal , daily , life placebo, that most of us take as "normal" life.  What if the consensus view of reality is false, and is a delusion?  Just a made up make-believe world , no more real than the placebo reality???]

Yeah, exactly!  I think of placebo as just the power to convince either yourself or others.  Once there is belief, belief in a pill, belief in the "power" of a priest or whatever, then that belief has power.  Once you directly understand that belief  has power, then you can skip the middle stage of convincing, realize the power was always yours and use it directly.  I don't think any monks have any special 'power' to not get sick, only that those particular monks may have come too understand their mind well enough to use the power that all lof us have.  And/or they have been well convinced and so they believe.  If you don't accept the existence of something, then you are probably not going to able to use it well and most of the world simply does not accept the existence of such things as the "power" these monks might have.
-Eva 

RE: Controling the Placebo Effect
Answer
7/21/14 12:13 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Yes, but the fundamental question is "how does belief turn into power?" If we fully understood the workings of this process, we would have the power to heal ourselves from anything. And maybe even tell others how they could cure themselves. Or develop an electric feedback program that would acomplish this for anyone, for example. Having control over the placebo effect would be the ultimate medicine.

RE: Controling the Placebo Effect
Answer
7/21/14 1:25 PM as a reply to Blue Jay.
I would say that the power is always there, but that lack of belief is the problem.

An interesting example of the placebo effect is a man in the 1950s who was given medication for his stage IV lung cancer. He believed it would work, and his tumors "melted like snowballs." Later studies showed that this medication was actually ineffective, and sure enough, the cancer immediately returned. His doctor gave him a new medication, saying it was a new and improved version. The cancer, once again, melted away. However, the doctor actually gave him nothing more than a glass of water.

(I don't know the name of this man, but I know it's referenced in one of my shamanism books. I will have to dig it up...)

RE: Controling the Placebo Effect
Answer
7/21/14 2:47 PM as a reply to Eric M W.
Eric M W:
I would say that the power is always there, but that lack of belief is the problem.

An interesting example of the placebo effect is a man in the 1950s who was given medication for his stage IV lung cancer. He believed it would work, and his tumors "melted like snowballs." Later studies showed that this medication was actually ineffective, and sure enough, the cancer immediately returned. His doctor gave him a new medication, saying it was a new and improved version. The cancer, once again, melted away. However, the doctor actually gave him nothing more than a glass of water.

(I don't know the name of this man, but I know it's referenced in one of my shamanism books. I will have to dig it up...)


Well, surely you understand that I can't look at a cube of sugar and fully believe that it will cure me of cancer. (I don't have cancer, don't worry emoticon ). I can't force myself to believe that something is what it's not.

So what is the process that is activated through the belief of a cure that turns into actual cure. It can't go through forcing myself to believe that a sugar pill is going to cure cancer.

RE: Controling the Placebo Effect
Answer
7/21/14 11:32 PM as a reply to Blue Jay.
Blue Jay:
Eric M W:
I would say that the power is always there, but that lack of belief is the problem.

An interesting example of the placebo effect is a man in the 1950s who was given medication for his stage IV lung cancer. He believed it would work, and his tumors "melted like snowballs." Later studies showed that this medication was actually ineffective, and sure enough, the cancer immediately returned. His doctor gave him a new medication, saying it was a new and improved version. The cancer, once again, melted away. However, the doctor actually gave him nothing more than a glass of water.

(I don't know the name of this man, but I know it's referenced in one of my shamanism books. I will have to dig it up...)


Well, surely you understand that I can't look at a cube of sugar and fully believe that it will cure me of cancer. (I don't have cancer, don't worry emoticon ). I can't force myself to believe that something is what it's not.

So what is the process that is activated through the belief of a cure that turns into actual cure. It can't go through forcing myself to believe that a sugar pill is going to cure cancer.
Hey All !!!

Placebo effect Mind/Body communication, accessing the unconscious and subconscious mind, latent powers of the body/mind, well...

Been thinking that since most of the Mind does NOT communicate in words, the mind/body has to communicate in chemicals and energy, AND that other sections of the brain probably can communicate in symbols and imagery.  Symbols and imagery, while seemingly primitive should and could actually work on accessing different parts of the brain/body/mind, same with chemicals and/or energy fields.  I think the part of the brain that can use words is relatively small, like roughtly the dimensions more or less than the bottom of a coffee cup, and only the thickness of 2-3 sheets of common notebook paper.  It is a wonder why we put so much emphasis on words, huh? 

This excerpt is from Andrew Newberg M.D. and Robert Waldman's book Words Can Change Your Brain page 57

How Thoughts Become Real

In the center of the brain there's a walnut shaped structure called the thalamus.  It relays sensory information about the outside world to other parts of the brain.  When we imagine something, this information is also sent to the thalamus.  Our research suggests that the thalamus treats these thoughts and fantasies in the same way it processes sounds, smells, tastes, images, and touch.  And it doesn't distinguish between inner and outer realities.  Thus, if you think you are safe, the rest of your brain assumes you are safe.  But if you ruminate on imaginery fears or self-doubt, your brain presumes that there may be a real threat in the outside world.  Our language-based thoughts shape our consciousness, and our consciouness shapes the reality we perceive.  So choose your words wisely because they become as real as the ground on which you stand.

Also, directly relating to Placebo effects I thought the following talks were pretty cool and spot on:

Lissa Rankin (this talk , BTW goes over the melting snowball tumors described by  Eric M W's post, within first five minutes or so) 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWQfe__fNbs

Eric Mead (Placebo)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cb_6PPBJJB8

Two other talks, that are more like Mind hacking, but have useful tips to releasing and sustaining wholesome states.

Amy Cuddy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks-_Mh1QhMc

Ron Gutman

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9cGdRNMdQQ


May all in the Dark Night be free, and know they are only one smooth breath away from Equanimity.

Psi

RE: Controling the Placebo Effect
Answer
7/29/14 5:16 AM as a reply to Blue Jay.
Hi Blue Jay,

I'll read the replies shortly but wanted to give my experience with this.

I have been a student of Robert Anton Wilson for some time. I feel I have probably one of the best grasps of Circuit V around, but time will tell. I've made a fairly comprehensive model of it.

My view is that Circuit V is all about revealing to you your mindbody's "template". I say we all have a template that wishes to be realized. It's the mindbody's ideal state. When it is fully realized, it is "lit up". I literally get a combined visuo-kinaesthetic (visual plus feeling) representation of my entire mindbody. I believe this "lit up" state might be one source of the term "enlightenment". You may have found that when deep in a restful meditative state with eyes closed everything appears "bright". An muscle tension or negative thoughts/energy fade away and also light up.

With illness, negative thoughts, muscle tension and so forth, these areas appear as "dark spots". They are errant parts where the template is not being realized. Watching them allows them to light up. This is why sitting and watching, over time, seems to "cure" so many damaged parts of the psyche and physical body.

This "template" is present in all areas of life and can be referred back to to fix any maladie. For example, let's take posture. The tight muscles which cause bad posture can be detected as dark spots, watched, and relaxed, to rejoin the template.

The "placebo effect" can be seen as simply dark spots relighting to rejoin the template. Just through sitting meditation you can "find" illness as dark spots in the template, watch them with equanimity, and they light back up.

Circuit V is all about returning one's mindbody to its "pure" form -- undisturbed by ill health or the negative pullings and trappings of the lower circuits. Restoring the template is the method by which the earlier circuits are transcended. It is then, through this pure template, that the other circuits can be accessed.

The template is persistent. It is always there, in the background. It is a reference point by which any situation can be measured and observed equanimously. Meditation reveals the template and solidifies your knowledge of it so it becomes a stronger and stronger reference point -- hence equanimity can be found in practically any situation by your measuring of your mindbody against the template. And, yes, the template extends far beyond the mindbody, into the infinite -- hence access to the higher circuits, up to Circuit VIII - The psychoatomic or quantum non-local circuit (Overmind).

You can manipulate the template once your awareness of it grows. For example I can dilate my pupils and lower my heart rate at will. For the placebo effect, however, in terms of healing, you are not looking to manipulate, but rather reveal to yourself the "pure" template and let those dark spots realign to that pure template and become lit again. That is, in my understanding, how you cure illness.

In physiological terms, Circuit V is mediated by the right hemisphere. The right hemisphere is far more connected with to the body (The Master and His Emissary is a fantastic science book on this -- search for Iain McGilchrist on YouTube and watch his lectures if you are interested in learning about the right brain from a scientific perspective). The right brain's preferred modalities are visual and kinaesthetic, which are the means by which the template is "seen-felt" and made bright.

My idea with the placebo effect in terms of taking a sugar pill is that the assumption that one will be cured lets go of the left brain's grip over the body (the left brain, the standard modality most people are stuck in) is poorly connected to the body and is miserable at its management. Letting go of the left brain's grip over the body lets the right brain reassert the template by itself -- hence you get better. Left brain is all about grip, right brain is all about letting go. That's why faith, intuition etc. are all domains of the right brain.

The right brain is always feeding to you the signals of the pure template. You just have to let go and allow those signals to be realized. Assume you have the knowledge, assume you are already receiving the signals, then let go and simply follow them.

This isn't just about curing illness either -- it's about finding pure form in anything you do. I'm really into golf, and the truest swing comes when I just let go and don't try to hit the ball. The right brain is feeding to you the pure forms at all times -- just learn to listen!

RE: Controling the Placebo Effect
Answer
7/29/14 8:55 AM as a reply to Illuminatus.
Hello Edd.

Thank you for your answer. That's fascinating.

Have you, or any of your spiritual friends with the same ability, considered to put that ability to test with EEG, and other instruments that register brain activity? That way, scientists may figure what specific part of the brain is being stimulated, and create some kind of neurofeedback system that allows any person to do that. I mean, it's a long shot, I know. But the cause itself is completely worth it, I would say. The placebo effect is the mind curing itself from any kind of illness. One thing is to apply for the Randi challenge to prove some trivial activity, like moving an object with the mind. Another thing is this case. I don't see drawbacks. Only advantages.

And sure, the present day neurofeedback systems don't completely capture concentration states, so it's unlikely that it would make a perfect system immediatly. But I see a gigantic potential in case you could repeat that ability in a controlled environment!

Thank you also to Psi Phi for your videos. I haven't watched them all, but will in due time.

RE: Controling the Placebo Effect
Answer
7/30/14 5:36 AM as a reply to Illuminatus.
Paweł K:
While generally this 8 circuit model is interesting as something that matches my own experiences with chakras including even numeration (up to eight chakra above the head), I fail for the same reason to see necessity of such model when chakras already capture everything there is to it.

It depends what your purposes are. For the kind of work we do here, maybe the chakra model is fine.

However, if you want to learn how the majority of humans live their everyday lives, the 8CM is a gold mine of insight. Prometheus Rising is the finest description of the current state of human affairs I have ever read. (Only Circuits I-IV however, since a) That is where 99.9% of humans are, and b) I find his higher circuit descriptions to be too vague to work with -- and he swapped around Circuits VI and VII for some odd reason. He does however improve upon this in its sequel, Quantum Psychology).

But for the first four circuits -- the really, really important ones for understanding how the human world is how it is -- Circuits I-IV in Prometheus Rising are the chapters to read. I never looked at the world in the same way after that. It's like the psychology book that would be written about us by a genuine impartial observer. Like how we can write about dog behaviour in very blunt terms, but when it comes to writing about ourselves we get all egoic and storytelling about it, and modern psychology could simply be thrown out the window entirely if everyone just read Prometheus Rising.

In fact, Prometheus Rising follows on from Timothy Leary's Info-Psychology: A Manual on the Use of the Human Nervous System According to the Instructions of the Manufacturers -- written as a tongue-in-cheek guide for aliens visiting Earth for the first time to understand our odd behaviour. That is also worth a read.


Where to read about some practices related to those circuits? I mean some good free e-book that will describe it practice-wise but from non-drug use side.

Antero Alli's Angel Tech. I don't know if it's available free. His exercises for the higher circuits are all ritual-based, if I recall. That's one reason I didn't like it. I prefer the drugs. emoticon Also, I didn't like having to subscribe to new systems such as tarot (which features a lot) because I felt like it was an extra step I did not have much faith in.