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Neuroscience behind the "book cure"

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Ellen, Oct 18, 2014.

  1. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I finished reading the excellent book You Are the Placebo by Joe Dispenza a few weeks ago. In reading his description of the neuroscience behind the placebo effect, it struck me how it can explain why some people are cured of their chronic pain by simply reading a book on TMS. He describes that the placebo effect occurs when a person is able to bring up an expansive, elevated emotion (e.g. hope, joy, gratitude) while simultaneously being exposed to a new possibility (e.g. a pain-free existence, health). Experiencing these two states simultaneously reprograms the subconscious (i.e. the autonomic nervous system) which can result in immediate changes in one's body.

    So perhaps the reason some people are able to read a TMS book and experience an immediate reduction in their pain, is that they were able to feel hope at the same time that they understood that their pain could be psychogenic. It is the placebo effect in action.

    I'm interested in others' thoughts on this.

    UPDATE : I have read all the posts debunking the author and his theories, and am no longer endorsing this book. Ellen
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2016
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  2. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I wonder though about how "an expansive, elevated emotion" and exposure to "a new possibility" could also reprogram (for want of a better word) the autoimmune system as well as the autonomic nervous system? Also, does anyone today in neuroscience have any ideas about how the autoimmune system and the autonomic nervous system might interact? This is like those old maps with the inscription in the corner, "Dragons Dwell Here" for regions of the mind-brain that are still terra incognita!

    I can see where reprogramming the autonomic nervous system could eliminate benign psychogenic symptoms like TMS but the big question is whether meditation and various other head-work strategies can strengthen the autoimmune system too. The orthodox allopathic MDs adamantly say, "No!" The only viable way of doing that is via stem cells. However, episodes of spontaneous healing such as those chronicled by Dr Andrew Weil and all the cases of placebo cures would suggest that the orthodox MDs are wrong and constricted in their thinking by their 18th century dualistic assumptions.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2014
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  3. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    I am going to have to read this book! :)
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  4. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Maybe a good book for a future book discussion? But not till I get back to the USA and can participate :)
  5. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Last edited: Oct 18, 2014
  6. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Placebos are such a big part of TMS healing, so Joe's book could be very helpful in
    understanding them better. We need to tune out the naysayers and tune in to our positive thinking.
    Colly likes this.
  7. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    If you want to order a copy online:

    http://www.amazon.com/You-Are-Placebo-Making-Matter/dp/1401944582/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413655840&sr=1-1&keywords=you are the placebo

    Sounds like an important book in the context of TMS healing. Bet there are skeptics though who insist that such mind-mediated cures are part of a .02% incidental rate. I for one am skeptical about those skeptics!

    I see where Joe Dispenza has a couple of meditation CDs to use in conjunction with You Are the Placebo book too.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2014
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  8. Colly

    Colly Beloved Grand Eagle

    Great post Ellen! I'm currently reading You are the Placebo and trying to savour every page. It's an astonishing read! Forest, it will blow you away!

    I smiled when I read that section about combining elevated emotion with the prospect of a healthy future, because that's exactly what I experienced two years ago when, suffering with TMS pain, a kind stranger in the sauna suggested I was using only 10% of my mind's ability to heal my body. That OMG moment turned into me doing cartwheels around my kitchen, once I raced home and googled "RSI success stories" and the lovely Forest appeared before me telling me he had overcome his pain!

    While still in pain, I nevertheless felt euphoric, knowing I had stumbled upon what I was searching for all these years. This elevated state reduced my tension dramatically, and gave me patience to accept my pain as a temporary state. My pain vanished several weeks later.

    I'm looking forward to hearing his meditation CD's as the Dr Emmett Miller ones have helped me enormously.
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  9. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    I don't think that the book cure is a placebo. I think that in most cases, the purpose of the pain is to serve as a vessel of preoccupation. When people read the book and learn what's going on with their pain, it often neutralizes the fear associated with their symptoms. Without fear, the pain is no longer an adequate vessel of preoccupation, and falls off as it is no longer serving its original purpose.

    I think a placebo generally doesn't have such a direct relationship with the cause of the symptom.

  10. Colly

    Colly Beloved Grand Eagle

    Very true Alan. My euphoria was my body letting go of the fear and dread around having my symptoms.
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  11. Cap'n Spanky

    Cap'n Spanky Well known member

    I'm glad to see he has the endorsement of several MDs and PHds on this latest book.
    My interest was definitely peaked and I added the book to my Wish List.

    I will say, however, that my snake-oil alarm went off a bit when I went and read some one-star reviews for his previous book, "Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One". There seemed to be some legitimate cries of pseudo science. I realize I would probably get the same impression if read Dr. Sarno's one-star reviews and I have no doubts regarding his work.

    I'll keep this in my Wish List and do a little more research before I jump. I'm definitely interested in this!
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  12. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Good point, Cap'n. Mainstream science is done by academically trained scientists who are generally very hesitant to get out ahead of what the evidence has shown. I'm not sure that applies to Dispenza. On the other hand, we all know that the same accusation is frequently leveled against Dr. Sarno, so we don't want to rule anyone out to quickly.

    My bet is that the book won't be for everyone, but multiple perspectives make for a much more interesting conversation. Even if there are parts that I don't agree with, I look forward finding the parts that I do agree with. For example, Dispenza writes as a neuroscientist, and I think that neuroscience will revolutionize psychology in the coming years. Dispenza may offer an accessible on-ramp to a very complex field.
  13. balto

    balto Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'm with Alan on this. I don't think the "book cure" is placebo at all. I am one of those "book cure" case and I have been cured for years now. I was able to "cure" myself from hundred of symptoms. I don't think the book's Placebo effect can last that long and can "cure" that many different symptoms.
    We human are just like all other animals on earth. Our main goal in life is to survive. Our brain and body constantly scan itself and the surrounding for sign of danger, physical or emotional dangers. Any sign of danger will trigger an emotion: "FEAR". And strong fear emotion often trigger Fight or Flight respond. And prolong or frequent FF respond will produce anxiety or chronic tms symptoms. We will get stuck in a tms/anxiety nightmare if we now FEAR our symptoms. Our symptoms is now the new "danger" signal.
    You read the book and somehow doctor Sarno's explanation and diagnosis really make sense to you. You accept his theory and truly believe that there is nothing structurally wrong with your body. You are not really in "danger". Your body start to feel relax. Your muscle no longer tense. Your blood vein relax and blood flow freely. Your breathing and heart beat slow down. Your body stop releasing stress hormones. Your mind calm and you fall sleep and stay sleep easier.... and soon there after your symptom disappear. That is the book cure, it is all about belief. No more Danger. No more fear. No more pain.
  14. chickenbone

    chickenbone Well known member

    I had a "book cure" 5 years ago when I was having terrible back pain and I first read Dr. Sarno's book. I did not have problems for the next 3 years. I also don't think the "book cure" is placebo. But I think the "book cure" only cured me of one symptom by taking away the fear of the symptom. In fact, I still don't fear back pain. But as Alan also said, the real problem is fear or it's derivative, anger. I believe it takes fear to produce anger. Then I just got other symptoms that I feared more than back pain. I also think that, if you have underlying hypochondria, it can take a lot more than a book cure to relieve the fear that some of us have experienced all of our lives.
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  15. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    I bought the book after reading this thread the other day. I'm only into it a few chapters but so far I'm really enjoying it and having a few "aha" moments. Learning about TMS is a little like learning to navigate around a new city. The routes are all new and unfamiliar but eventually you get things figured out…and realize there is more than one way to a destination. (Said the woman 2 weeks in a new city.)
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  16. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I just received You Are the Placebo by Joe Dispenza from Amazon this morning and have only glanced at the liner notes on the book jacket, but was immediately interested in seeing how much Dispenza's anecdotes about self-healing from a placebo matched (or differed from) those given by Andrew Weil in his book Spontaneous Healing (1995)? Guess I'll have to read Dr Joe's new tome with Weil's earlier study at arm's reach! Would imagine that You Are the Placebo has more evidence based on recent discoveries in neuroscience than Weil. Read and see!

    Spontaneous Healing on Amazon:

    Last edited: Oct 24, 2014
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  17. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    To me the anecdotes were the weakest part of the book. They were dated and often ones I had heard before, too. He does include some new ones from people who have participated in his workshops. He is trying to provide objective evidence of changes in the brain with MRIs. I think it points to how new the field of study is and the lack of research on mindbody healing. I'm hoping that books like his will help increase interest and more money will be available for research. Although Forest made a good point a few weeks ago that since there isn't any money to be made in people healing their bodies with their minds, the private sector will not be interested in investing.
    North Star likes this.
  18. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, but do demonstrated changes in the neurobiology of the brain translate into enhanced autoimmunity? There's little doubt that meditation does result in brain change, but whether or not those changes can reverse autoimmune conditions or bacterial or viral infections is the big question that needs to be answered on a firm scientific basis. Otherwise, skeptics are going to say that self-healing and spontaneous healing are part of a .02% incidental cure rate. I'd sure like to see such proofs myself! Remember Dr Sarno says that TMS is a benign condition. What about diseases and conditions that aren't so benign? Are in fact generally fatal? Youth and old geezers like me both want to know! I better go downstairs and start reading instead of speculating. But first I need to change the shocks on my old van. First things, first.
  19. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I just finished reading Joe Dispenza's You Are the Placebo a couple of days ago and last night did the 1-hour Meditation 1 on the accompanying CD. The whole title is "Changing Two Beliefs and Perceptions". Drove my car to a local sunset view area, parked and popped the CD into the player in the dash and did the whole thing at a sitting. One thing I noticed afterwards was that the first part of the CD where you focus your attention on various areas of your anatomy and locate them in potential "Space" was so hypnotic that "I" as an distinctly separate ego vanished for about a half hour. Then, when the second part of the CD began playing I listened to the recorded voice repeating basically Dr. Dispenza's argument about an expanded elevated emotion leading to a placebo type cure. IOWs: It seemed like the first part of the CD put me in a highly suggestible hypnotic trance so that I could absorb the message and argument for self-healing described in the second half of the CD. Several hours later back at home I did notice that the meditation had altered my consciousness and distanced me from my habitual inner dialog with imaginary bullies and vengeful superego figures. I had gained enough distance on my old self that I could look at mental gossip without being subject to it. Interesting experiment!
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
  20. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Interesting, Bruce. For my meditation time today, I decided to give his "Space" thing a whirl. I don't think I can do it again…I found it annoying with the sssssssss's. ;) But I will say this - I had a wonderful little power nap! ;) I kept thinking of a hissing snake from a Disney Cartoon. Yeah, I know. I have issues. haha

    Dr. Emmet Miller meditations have been more helpful to me (different strokes, eh). And he too talks about the importance of pulling positive emotions into the visualization process.

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