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You have a pharmacy inside. How we deceive ourselves and heal ourselves

You have a pharmacy inside. How we deceive ourselves and heal ourselves

We at MYTH love books about the brain – they always amaze. But the book “The Suggestible Brain” has turned our understanding of thinking, diseases and drugs, and most importantly, about ourselves. They did not suspect that they were capable of this.

Eric Vance is a biologist, science journalist and brave guy. To understand how the brain works, he not only shoveled through dozens of studies, but also tested everything for himself. In the book he will be hypnotized, poked with needles, shocked and even cursed.

You will meet with sorcerers, healers and doctors. But do you know what is the most interesting? You will find out that there is a whole pharmacy inside you. Let’s take a look at it?

Suggestibility is talent

Our brains make expectations all the time. And it’s not just the impatience with which we await the new season of Game of Thrones. The brain makes predictions for hours, years and decades, and then does everything possible to make them come true. For this, he can even deceive us – change reality.

Eric Vance tells the incredible: everyone has powers inside that can heal us. To use them, you need to rebuild expectations in your favor, that is, to become suggestible. We think suggestibility is weakness. But in fact, this is the strongest resource that doctors, healers and sellers have used for centuries. Now we can too.

By studying the power of expectations, you can open your own medical office. Right inside.

Yellow, blue, or prick?

Have you heard of placebo? This is not a trick for the gullible, but quite measurable brain activity. For example, in depressed patients, yellow placebo pills have a stronger effect than blue ones. Large tablets are more effective than small ones. And bogus injections work better than bogus pills.


A doctor can provoke a placebo effect by carefully placing a hand on your shoulder, looking into your eyes, radiating confidence. Plus a white robe – and now we feel better. – Illustration from our comic “Emergency”

There are a number of conditions that can be easily addressed with a placebo: pain, anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, addiction, and nausea. The proportion of patients treated with placebo can be as high as 80%. And that negates the need for real drugs.

Suggestibility can relieve pain or cure a cold. Just think how important it is.

Evil brother

In 1886, a woman suffering from asthma consulted Dr. John Mackenzie. The doctor conducted an experiment: before her visit, he put a rose in the office. As soon as the patient saw the flower, she had a severe attack. This could be regarded as a mockery if the rose was not artificial.

This is how the evil antipode of placebo, nocebo, works. Placebo soothes pain, nocebo provokes pain through fear. And this is one of our strongest feelings. Therefore, it is much easier to induce a nocebo than a placebo. Sometimes a couple of phrases, a negative thought or an artificial flower are enough.

Avoid negative assumptions, scary stories, and evil fortunetellers with all your might.

Know yourself

How to use suggestibility to your advantage? Eric Vance offers 4 rules. One of them is to get to know yourself better. Maybe a particular type of placebo works well for you? Use it. Examine your condition.

But be careful: the power of suggestion is not unlimited. If you’re being asked to spend a hefty sum, opt for one treatment and ditch the rest, use the horns of endangered rhinoceroses, or bring back forgotten memories, beware. This is most likely just a gimmick.

Deceiving your brain to relieve pain or quit smoking is a great solution. But tricking the brain to see something implausible is playing with fire.

What else

Suggestibility is the foundation of human nature. “I don’t think the power of the mind is limitless,” says Elia Krum, a researcher at Stanford. “But I suppose we don’t know yet where its boundaries are.”

Our beliefs have the power to calm us down, cause discomfort, bring relief, and save lives.


Photo @ o.nonfiction

There are a lot of interesting things in the book:

  • Non-existent but very useful things
  • How can you flinch from an injection, but not notice an open wound on your back
  • “Medical Spectacle”: local specifics and modern technologies
  • Dopamine is the puppeteer of our brain
  • Hypnosis, acupuncture, green smoothie, brujo and ginseng
  • Why curse is not magic, but statistics
  • When to use suggestibility and when to be careful with it

Our mind is able to move mountains and create works of genius. But people are driven not by reality, but by expectations. What we are waiting for becomes possible. How to use it is up to you.

Based on the book “The Suggestible Brain”
Post cover – @_espina__

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