‘Physician as Placebo’ refers to the phenomenon of patients feeling better during, and after, a visit to their doctor or health care provider, and healing faster than normal.
Try Googling ‘Physician as Placebo’ and you’ll find that there isn’t much out there on this important concept. We have seen the effect of this time and time again in our private practice, our clients come to us with life-threatening illnesses, and through our work they transmute their illnesses and bodies into states of extraordinary good health, and transform their lives.
What causes this positive change? We believe it is because of the power of our minds, our trust and belief in ourselves as healers, and the faith and trust placed in us by our clients.
Placebos are defined as substances with no active medicine in them, or procedures and devices that have no curative effects. Placebos are considered deceptions, these substances or procedures somehow ‘trick’ people into the desired outcome, whether it’s shrinking cancerous tumors or lifting depression, or lowering blood pressure, to name just a few.
But how to explain the phenomena of positive results in the patient through the physician/patient relationship? Why do some patients respond better to treatment, real or placebo, with some doctors and fail to respond with other doctors? And not just doctors, but healers from the spectrum of health care providers?
The answer might lie with mirror neurons. A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires when a person acts as well as when the person observes the same action performed by another. The neuron “mirrors” the behavior of the other, as though the observer were himself acting.
If you feel that your doctor, or health care provider, sincerely cares about you and your positive health outcome, you develop trust in that person. Thus, whatever medications, if any, real or placebo, that your doctor prescribes for you will more work more often than not to quickly bring about a positive health outcome.
The power of belief and certainty
These doctors trust and believe in their own wisdom, they have a certainty borne of long years of practice and interaction with patients. This certainty radiates from the doctor, she is an authority due to years of experience and training, it is in the words she speaks, the assured tone of her voice, the comfort you feel from her caring touch, her belief that you can get better, and soon.
As you watch her, and listen to her, and feel her certainty, your neurons are firing in empathic response to her brain activity. You believe you can get better because she knows that you will.
V.S. Ramachandran, the eminent neuroscientist, writes in The Tell-Tale Brain, “It is as if mirror neurons are nature’s own virtual-reality simulations of the intentions of other beings.”
The doctor knows that the body is a healing machine, it begins healing itself automatically. When you cut yourself, the repair to the injured area starts immediately. If you break a bone, it starts knitting back together; if you have a cold or flu, the immune system, always working in the background, kicks into high gear to fight off the bacteria or virus.
So, choose your doctors and health care providers carefully, they can help you accelerate your healing process with their care, their wisdom and their certainty.
“Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” Hippocrates.
 The Tell-Tale Brain, V.S. Ramachandran, W. W. Norton & Company (January 17, 2011)