Brain and Body

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Skimming through chapter 12 I came across a section talking about how suggestion alone can cause skin rash that is similar to those produced by poison ivy. The study was done in 1962 by two Japanese physicians. They select 13 boys who have itchy red skin reaction when touched by poison ivy. In the first phase they touch the boys with harmless leaves but told them they were using poison leaves. The second phase the condition is reversed. Poison leaves were used but was told to be harmless. The result is that phase 1 causes all 13 kids skins rash because they were told they were touched by poison leaves. Phase 2 however only 2 out 13 boys show skin rash. I found this very interesting because this demonstrate the nocebo effect, beliefs can create reality. After reading this I've been wondering how far can this effect go? I mean does it only limits to poison leaves and skin rashes or it can apply to crazy thing like believing you're not sick and be cured just by believing.

3 Comments

That is funny how the power of suggestion is always underestimated. A friend a while ago mentioned that she was in contact with someone with skin herpes. I began to itch just because the idea was in my head that I could have gotten it. Another example is telling yourself that you already ate. Even if it is not true it will help ease the pain of hunger for a little while. A friend had trouble sleeping and she was able to function by telling herself she had a goodnight sleep.

This is an interesting study! I personally can account for it when I get mosquito bites. It seems like the bites that are in unknown places to me never itch, but when I can see the bumps I feel the need to scratch them. My worst mosquito bites in the summer always seem to be on my arms where they are very visible to me.

It is crazy that just a suggestion can make us believe something. If we aren't careful, we can get ourselves in trouble by not thinking scientifically and instead believing whatever is suggested to us.

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This page contains a single entry by phamx305 published on January 29, 2012 11:29 PM.

Short Term and Long Term Memory (Chapter 7) was the previous entry in this blog.

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