Lemoine disclosed that doctors also grow to believe in the power of their own placebo 'sorcery', and the power of their minds appears to be involved in the healing process. It's not uncommon, says Lemoine, for a doctor to lose respect for a patient when the patient fails to respond to treatment.
"He may decide the patient is imagining or faking his symptoms." The doctor's lack of respect is then transmitted to the patient who, in turn, is less likely to believe in the doctor. "Any treatment he then prescribes is less likely to be effective and may even produce unpleasant side-effects," says Lemoine.
This is called the 'nocebo' effect and it refers to the power of the mind to believe that an inert substance causes harm.
So, what conditions optimize the placebo effect? The power of the mind appears to have the best effects through a 'wellness contract' between doctor and patient—a mutual belief that the treatment will work.
A healer optimizes results when he himself is healthy and well in every way.
This was discovered by University of Arizona psychologist Dr Gary Schwartz in a study of healing intention involving 14 Reiki practi-tioners. Schwartz and his colleagues used Escherichia coli bacteria that had been subjected to a sudden blast of heat. The Reiki practitioners were asked to heal the bacteria that survived by transmitting a standard Reiki treatment for 15 minutes.
Initially, the Reiki apparently made no difference to the overall survival of the viable bacteria. On closer examination, however, the researchers found that the Reiki practitioners seemed to be successful on certain days, but not on others and, in some instances, the healers actually had a deleterious effect on the bacteria.
The scientists decided to admin-ister the Arizona Integrative Out-comes Scale (AIOS)-an ingeniously simple visual means of assessing spiritual, social, mental, emotional and physical wellbeing-during the
24 hours before and after the healers had given their Reiki.
Using these test data, the researchers found an important trend. On the days when the healers felt really well in themselves, they had beneficial effects on the bacteria. In contrast, on days when they did not feel so well, not only did they score lower on the test, but they actually had a deleterious effect on the E. coli.
Those practitioners who began the healing with diminished wellbeing actually killed off more bacteria than had naturally died in the controls. Evidently, the physical and emotional condition of the healer has an effect on results: a practitioner's own overall health is an essential factor in his ability to heal others.
The healer himself has to believe and send his own healing intention.
Schwartz and his fellow researchers carried out a double-blind study of distant Johrei healing on cardiac patients (J Altern Complement Med, 2005; 11: 455-7). After three days, the patients were asked if they had had a sense, feeling or belief that they had received Johrei. In both the treatment and control groups, certain patients strongly believed that they had received treatment, and others had a strong feeling they had been excluded.
When Schwartz and his co-workers tabulated the results, a fascinating picture emerged. The best outcomes were among those who had received Johrei and believed they had received it. The worse outcomes were those who had not received Johrei and were certain they had not. The other two groups-those who had received it but did not believe it, and those who had not received it but believed they had -fell somewhere in the middle.