Bringing the Text to Life

The Nocebo Effect 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

The Nocebo Effect

Patients experiencing the nocebo effect presume the worst, health-wise - and that’s exactly what they get. Because they think sick, they are sick. A similar effect was running wild in Paul’s Corinth, and it’s still afflicting us today.

Think sick, be sick.

Doctors are beginning to sense that there’s a connection between the two.

About a decade ago, researchers made a surprising discovery: Women who believed that they were prone to heart disease were nearly four times as likely to die as women who didn’t hold such fatalistic views.

Their risk factors were the same: age, blood pressure, cholesterol, weight. So their higher risk of death had nothing to do with these usual heart disease culprits. Instead, the only difference was their beliefs - whether or not they believed they were at risk for heart disease.

Bottom line: They thought they were going to get sick and die, and so they did.

This study is a classic in research on the “nocebo” phenomenon, the evil twin of the placebo effect. While the placebo effect refers to health benefits produced by a treatment that should have no effect, patients experiencing the nocebo effect experience the opposite. They presume the worst, health-wise, and that’s what they get.


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