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The Nocebo Effect is Stronger If It Costs More

The “nocebo effect” reveals a lot about the human mind. We are weird creatures.

Good morning. I’m reading today an article in Neuroscience News and it just triggered something in me that I had to share with you guys.

So, we’re talking about something that scientists call the “Nocebo Effect.”

Essentially what this is – researchers will give people some sort of medication that doesn’t actually have any active ingredients, but they will tell these people that it does have some sort of active ingredients.

And what they were trying to test was the effect of the belief system on your experience of negative side effects.

Does Belief Have Power Over Biology?

When people were told medication they were being given might have negative side effects, the intensity of their experience of those negative side effects varied directly in relationship to how expensive they perceived the medication to be.

The people were given “medicine” that didn’t actually do anything. All these people had negative side effects.

When the folks were told that the medication they were given was cheap, the negative side effects they experienced didn’t seem to be as intense.

When the folks were told that the the medication they were being given was very expensive — when people thought they were being given an expensive medication, their experience of negative side effects – their EXPERIENCE of negative side effects – was more intense.

People treated with the “expensive” cream reported greater sensitivity on a heat tolerance test.

The nocebo effects became – get this – “more pronounced over time.”

Belief Creates Measurable Physical Responses

These “nocebos” – combined with the people’s belief about them – caused actual physical responses.

The story goes – farther down on the story that talks about how they can see the entire nervous system light up under functional MRI as people are describing and experiencing these entirely mentally produced reactions.

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