Positive Thinking – How it Affects Medical Treatment

2013-02-07 |

We live in a world of explosive progress and medical discoveries with new studies and methods constantly being discussed and debated. However, as much as there is a move to the new, there are also many who maintain medicinal beliefs that are rooted in days of yore. The role of positive thinking in treatment is one such theory. In the 1800s a popular theory was that an individual can control his health to some degree based on his mind. This theory has been tested many times since then, but it is difficult to come to a definite conclusion because of the many variables involved.

The Role Of Positive Thinking In Prevention Versus Treatment

A large number of the studies that address the value of positive thinking focus on patients who had positive attitudes and their recovery rates, as opposed to patients who did not focus on the positive. The flaw with such studies is that positive thinking is meant to prevent illness or help patients heal; it does not guarantee a cure. Measuring the relative rates of healing among patients is, at best, difficult. There may even be patients in studies who died from their diseases, but, as Dr. Lissa Rankin writes, they “…probably died healed because of the love and support.”

This factor invalidates both those who point to the studies done to back up the validity of positive thinking in treatment, and those who use studies to negate this premise. Proving this point is an ongoing process, because the studies that have been done prove very little.

Positive Thinking And The Placebo Effect

While there is a difficulty in proving the power of positive thinking as a means of prevention, there is one area where studies have shown concrete proof of the power of the mind in healing. This is the placebo effect.

A placebo is a sugar pill prescribed by doctors that contains no healing powers, but patients saw concrete and traceable medical improvement after taking placebo pills. The only explanation to this is the power of the mind in healing. Dr. Rankin reports that her research has shown remarkable recovery among patients from the placebo effect. Balding men have grown hair, Parkinson’s patients have improved, the passages in the lungs have dilated in cases of asthma, and other measurable medical healing has taken place as a result of the placebo effect.

According to Dr. Deepak Chopra, an average of 30% of patients respond positively to the placebo effect. However, patients can’t do this to themselves. Without a Doctor prescribing the pill, patients see it as just a useless sugar pill, and taking it does not affect the healing process. However, Dr. Chopra and others believe that the power of the mind can affect how patients heal, even without fooling them.

The Health Benefits Of A Perpetually Positive State of Mind

Dr. Chopra goes on to explain in an article published on CNN that it’s difficult to constantly think positive thoughts. Thinking takes time and energy. Rather, he proposes that patients try to reach a peaceful state of mind. A more relaxed state of being can deliver many of the same benefits as that of positive thinking. Reaching a state of peacefulness can be a lifelong search for which people can strive, and it is this that can help prevent illnesses and help to heal the afflicted patient.


The opinions on positive thinking and its role in medical treatment are varied. Methods such as meditation, hypnotism, and natural supplements are sometimes used in an effort to reach a state of positive thinking. While the jury is out on how to reach a calm state of being, and whether it is proven to help in medical treatment, striving to be a positive person definitely cannot hurt. In the worst case, one will see no proven medical results, but will have become a happier person who is has more inner peace.

Michelle is a freelance writer, a fan of positive thinking and the medical benefits it may offer. She values efforts that can cheer up a patient and help them along the path to healing.

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Category: General Health, Medical Research

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