Whilst most people have heard of the placebo effect, its lesser-known opposite, the nocebo effect, or negative thinking, can have damaging effects on your health.
Negative thinking is not a sign of depression – it is a natural thought process indoctrinated into our habitual way of thinking. However, negative thinking can drag you into depression.
The most powerful influences that infiltrate our perceptions on a daily basis are media stories designed to spread fear. Political and religious propaganda is also designed to evoke antagonism and anger.
Information regurgitated through mainstream platforms is delusional yet can make some people believe it is factual and ‘normal.’
When I quizzed politicians as a teenager, my school friends would say, "that's just how it is Rich, accept it."
The majority of our conditioning stems from childhood; our parents, social stigmas, peer pressure, an inept education system, popular culture, TV and radio.
Even as a child I didn't watch a lot of TV. My school teachers called me an absent-minded professor so I clearly didn't pay much attention in class either. After feeling depressed listening to songs on the radio, I asked my mum, "is this all there is?" I was six.
Yet there is no escape from negative thinking. Even if you don't believe the bullshit, other people do. The unbelievers are ostracised and called conspiracy theorists, militants or trouble causers which can generate negative thinking.
Somehow, the controllers have got us policing one another. How the fuck did that happen?
Quite easily, it would appear. The human mind is so easy to condition.
"The nocebo effect can result from conditioning, as when patients become nauseated or even vomit on entering a room where they have recently received chemotherapy." ~ Harvard Health Publishing
As we mature and settle into adulthood, feelings of worry, anger, jealousy, hate, resentment, guilt and other negative thoughts are part of our emotional make-up. The adult mind is hard-wired to worry.
So much so, in fact, we don’t even notice the flow of tension, rumination and plans for revenge is abnormal behaviour. In almost every case, negative thinking leads to anxiety and depression.
This destructive conditioning is a form of mental illness that can seriously take over your life to the point you can act irrationally. Eventually, the body rebels against the abuse it receives and we suffer a nervous breakdown, psychosis, or ‘mid-life crisis.’
Not only can negative thinking affect the way you manage your life, but it can also cause poor mental health together with serious illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and so on.
More commonly, negative thinking will make you develop insomnia and give you potential digestive disturbances which can be very disruptive to your enjoyment of life.
Most people have heard of the Placebo Effect whereby patients that believe they are ill are given a sugar pill as a medicinal cure. Because they think the medication is healing them, they feel better.
Research shows that it is actually the patient’s imagination that made them think they were ill and subsequently the imagination that “cures” them - the phantom of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When we do not have mastery over our habitual thoughts and are unable to control our emotions, the mind becomes delusional. The more we become disconnected from our True Nature, the more our conscious awareness becomes narrowed. We then start to believe the propaganda because that is all we have to go on.
The human brain can be very damaging if left to run amok. Not only can you develop paranoia and other mental diseases that cause you to make poor choices, but you can also make yourself physically ill.
Research has found that illness can be caused by worry, cynicism, criticism and many other negative thoughts that possess the habitual mind. Negative thinking also slows down the brain’s ability to function and impedes cognition.
Every thought releases a chemical known as a neurotransmitter. Negative thinking releases cortisol - a stress hormone. When the body is put under too much pressure from the secretion of cortisol, illnesses develop.
Even cliché terms like “scared to death” and “worried sick” are actual phenomena we can create psychosomatically without realising the damage we are causing to ourselves.
When the human brain suffers from delusion – which is present in most people in today’s society whether individuals are aware of it themselves or not – it releases a chemical reaction commonly known as the fight-flight-or freeze mechanism.
When we are in a situation in which we feel challenged, we will either rise to the challenge and fight - either verbally or physically - or we will run away from the perceived danger. One way of doing this is simply pretending something is not true and denying it.
We experience the same physiological reaction in flight mode as well. Fear triggers the same chemical reaction as anger, and when the danger is not a reality, is generated from delusional thinking which causes paranoia.
Paranoia, no matter how mild or severe, is common even though we don't like to admit it.
But consider the negative thoughts that creep into your mind; people are talking about you behind your back, people are judging you, nobody cares about you, nobody loves you, your lover is trying to sabotage your plans.
All these types of thought cause worry, anger, frustration and can lead to anxiety, depression and eventually dementia.
Society is designed to keep us stressed and in fear. That's not paranoia, it's just a fact. What really matters is how you respond to collapsed economies, laws that make your poorer, police brutality, injustice, government corruption and everything else that breeds negative thoughts.
All this negative thinking has a knock-on effect in your personal life in the form of coping mechanisms. Often we find ourselves drawn to smoking cigarettes, comfort food, alcohol, drugs and sex.
Ancient Ayurveda doctors of India, Chinese doctors and shamanic healers of Native American tribes knew of the Nocebo effect thousands of years ago. The English word we use today derives from Latin meaning, “I will harm.”
Alternative healing practitioners that use ancient techniques to treat patients, take into account the nature of a person before they diagnose a treatment.
Most of the time they discover the illness has been caused by stress and negative thinking that prompts unhealthy lifestyles. Studies by western scientists are now beginning to reach the same conclusions.
The term 'healthy mind, healthy body' is well known, yet western medicine tends to mask symptoms of illness caused by negative thinking with pills. Meanwhile, the patient continues to have negative thoughts and the illnesses get worse.
Psychological studies show the anti-psychotic drugs cause more harm than good. Mental health professionals are under pressure after studies showed that neither anti-depressant drug therapy nor psychiatric counselling work.
The principal reason for this is because we do not really know how the human mind works. Therefore it's extremely easy for us to fall prey to indoctrinated social stigmas and react with emotions born out of fear.
There are better ways to cure anxiety and depression than using pharmaceutical pills.
Psychiatrists have developed a list of symptoms that are fundamentally present in depressive thinkers. Many of us can fall into these lines of thinking at some point, but if you do one or more on a regular basis, you are effectively pressing the self-destruct button.
The all or nothing way of thinking typically generates feelings of failure - even when you succeed. Unless you get a perfect score, you feel that you are not good enough.
This way of thinking breeds perfectionism and will always leave you with a feeling of dissatisfaction.
Furthermore, you are or will become, overbearing and moody. This brings everybody down with you and essentially destroys your relationships.
Diminishing positive situations is when you find fault in something that you should celebrate. You passed your exam, but you could have gotten a better result, or you had a good night, but it would have been better if…
This is similar to all or nothing thinking but to a lesser extent. But eventually, your negativity will lead to the same results and is destructive to your personal development, health and relationships.
Jumping to negative conclusions involves convincing yourself something is wrong before the matter is even concluded. For example, you arrange a date with a member of the opposite sex but expect them to call it off.
Because you are generating negative ideas, you cause yourself unnecessary suffering whilst at the same time dumping toxic chemicals into your body that could eventually manifest as a serious illness.
When something negative happens and you think every experience in the future will turn out the same, you suffer from over-generalisation. This can make you defeatist to the point where you stop trying.
If you don’t set yourself goals in your life, simply because you have a fear of failure, you will never achieve anything, thus suffer from a lack of self-respect and generally have an unfulfilling and unsatisfactory life.
Furthermore, your lack of self-confidence, and perhaps even self-disgust, will negatively affect your relationships and probably manifest in anxiety which will ultimately be even more debilitating.
Binocular, or microscopic thinking, is where you blow every little thing out of proportion and make a drama out of nothing.
Your overblown reactions induce stress and can make you unbearable to be around because there is never any peace.
At the other end of the spectrum, you ignore the positive aspects about yourself and others, yet over-magnify errors and weaknesses in everything.
If you are constantly having thoughts that you should do this and must do that, you are likely to riddle yourself with guilt and self-hate.
Even worse, is when thinking along these lines is directed at other people, even though your theory may be unrealistic.
In such cases, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and your frustration will most likely lead to an argument that could otherwise have been avoided.
This type of thinking involves taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong, even when things are out of your control.
Guilt-ridden feelings and sayings like, “I should have been there for him/her,” are typical in mothers and wives, fathers and husbands.
The counter-delusion to this way of thinking is when we refuse to accept any blame on behalf of ourselves and accuse other people of things going wrong.
In both circumstances, you stunt personal development and generate negative feelings of stress and frustration.
Negative thinking is not the result of depression, but the root. Therefore if you notice you fall foul of grand delusions on a daily basis, you need to address the cause of your depression.
The reason for your condition could stem back to childhood or adolescence without you realising it was there. If you are generally happy with work-life balance this is the most likely root.
It may be you are restless in a relationship or bored with your job, or you may have suffered a setback you have not recovered from yet.
Whatever the reason for your nocebo effect, anxious, or suffering from other cognitive disorders that induce stress, there are plenty of ways to fix it. Taking up a new hobby, taking a break or changing your routine will help a little.
But the real work has to come from within. First of all, stop blaming and shaming yourself, try not to pass judgement over others and always look to find the positive in every situation rather than focusing on the negative.
You should also think about taking self-development lessons to help you identify weaknesses in your character and lines of thought so you can work on turning them into strengths whereby you will naturally feel better “in yourself.”
Master Mind Content offers a selection of self-development programs. Whether you want to overcome addiction, lose weight, or cure anxiety, our personalised self-help programs show you how to expand conscious awareness and improve your quality of life.