The nocebo effect – the body’s way of believing what you tell it!

The power of the mind

Unlike the placebo effect, the nocebo effect is said to happen when a patient ‘causes’ the treatment they are having to have a more negative effect than intended. For example, when a patient anticipates a side effect, and experiences the side effect….. even when the ‘medication’ is inert or a placebo. In other words, the impact or the side effect is caused purely through the power of the mind.

Imagine telling someone that you have poisoned them, and you describe what will happen to them and then you see it happening. Not because you have poisoned them, but because you have got them to believe you have. They in turn have convinced their bodies and their bodies have created the necessary reaction.

Recently I read a book called The Premonitions Bureau, which described this beautifully. It also showed how powerful the mind can be and how untapped it potentially is.

In recent times we have seen the development of ‘manifesting’ strategies. It can be described as a pseudoscientific self-help strategy, aimed at making an individual’s wishes come true by mentally visualising them.


So what? – it just sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo

Well, as we enter into the new year, lots of people will make new year’s resolutions, and as the old saying goes: “whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, your probably right!”

In the business world I’ve seen so many Change programmes fail at the first hurdle. To get anything off the ground takes a level of belief first. It’s easy to say no, take the easy steps forward and it’s easy to be the cynic!

Change takes patience, effort, an understanding of the human psyche and resilience when everyone else is saying ‘no.’

A healthy dose of cynicism is fine, as long as you are using it to check yourself and not derail yourself – no-one wants a miracle cure that doesn’t exist!! Just take a look at this article on The truth about ‘medbeds’ – a miracle cure that doesn’t exist – BBC News – For every fake ‘miracle cure’ we find it just that little bit harder to not be cynical about the real ones!!


What lessons can we apply to change programmes this year?

Ultimately, “if you build it, they will come!”

  1. Vision and being able to see around the bend is hard. Getting others to see it and understand it is even harder. If you don’t take people on the path to where the vision becomes reality, reassuring them all the way, it’s twice as hard. At least.
  2. Let the cynics be cynical! In fact, while you are testing your theories, be one of them, accept it as part of the process but don’t let them derail you.
  3. Don’t let unexpected blocks in the road deter you. If it was easy everyone would do it. It’s all part of the learning process.
  4. Right now, if you aren’t changing, change will happen to you, and you will have no control over it. Control the controllable, be bold and brave.
  5. If you’ve ever seen the video How to start a movement | Derek Sivers – Bing video, you will know it’s not the first person leading the way that makes the difference, it’s the first person who follows.


Why not recruit us to be your first follower?

We’ll get it, support you in making it happen, add value and challenge you as a healthy cynic. We will become a positive believer, enabling others to follow.

We’re experts in understanding your vision, making the change happen and getting others to follow. If you want to know more about how we do Change Management and why we are so different, take a look at our Change Management Support Services, or call us on 01491 414010. Alternatively, email us at





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