Mind Over Sports

GEORGE BRETT AND THE PLACEBO EFFECT.

Posted on: February 8, 2012

A lawsuit recently filed in federal court in Des Moines claims Spokane Valley, Wash.-based Brett Bros. Sports International Inc. has falsely claimed its Ionic Necklaces help customers relieve pain in the neck, shoulders and upper back, recover from sports fatigue and improve focus. According to the lawsuit, the company has also falsely claimed its bracelets, which include two roller magnets, would relieve wrist, hand and elbow pain.
So the question arises: Is there any validity to the claim made by the lawsuit. From my perspective I would say: No.
By way of background, we’ve all heard and read about the “Placebo Effect” and there is a basis for this type of psychological achievement. In his book, “The Silent Pulse,” George Leonard refers to this process as “positive physical transformation” dealing with the power of, what he calls, “Intentionality.” This is often identified as the placebo effect, an effect that is derived not from the potion but from the process, which is one of “authorization” (And by the way, there’s also a “Nocebo effect” which is a negative physical transformation. That is, when expectations are negative – or low – the authorization has the opposite effect.)
With the placebo effect, in matters of health, the physician simply authorizes the patients to do what they are already capable of doing…themselves. And the greater the perception of the physician, or trainer, or the coach, the more powerful the potion.
In Norman Cousin’s book, “Head First” it’s pretty clearly documented how the power of our beliefs impacts our bodies. For example, Mr. Cousins refers to a study conducted in England where 411 cancer patients were given chemotherapy tablets and told that one of the effects of the pill was that their hair would fall out. Thirty percent of the patients were given sugar pills, and their hair fell out.
Depak Chopra is a medical doctor who was educated in Boston and has practiced Endocrinology since 1971. He is former Chief of Staff of New England Memorial Hospital in Stoneham, Massachusetts and has written some excellent books on the subject of the relationship of the mind to health. Dr. Chopra has written: “What a patient believes can be the deciding factor in his or her disease…everything the physician does (including the most advanced surgery or the most powerful drugs) is secondary. A great deal of credit goes to the art of medicine which should go to the art of belief.”
Today, at the Harvard Medical School, there is extensive research being conducted regarding the power of the placebo under the watchful eye of its director, Ted Kaptchuk, who recently returned from Asia after studying Chinese medicine for a number of years.
So what does all this mean as related to the lawsuit against George Brett?  Simply put, it means that your beliefs have a powerful effect on your life, and your health, and that individuals purchasing one of Brett’s necklaces or bracelets will find it highly beneficial if they are having severe pain and BELIEVE that it will be highly beneficial.  From my perspective, the individual (or individuals) who filed the lawsuit were probably not in as great pain and were more than likely dubious from the outset as to whether or not the necklaces and bracelets worked, and because of that belief, they didn’t.  There’s a high correlation between the severity of the pain (and the person authorizing the treatment) and the effectiveness of the product.  So I’m sure in the coming months Brett’s attorneys will find many witnesses who swear to the effectiveness of the necklaces and bracelets.  Why?  Because they had a strong belief (even before purchasing them) that they would work.  That, coupled with the fact they were experiencing great pain.

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