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What you think can kill you

To feel the effect of the nocebo on yourself, it is not necessary to provoke any priest of voodoo – just scroll through a couple of newspapers or exchange gossip with colleagues. Scientists claim that beliefs that are hazardous to health can be transmitted from person to person and spread through the media. Remember – some time ago there was a rumor that cell phones are detrimental to the brain, and although no one has yet provided scientific evidence of this, thousands of people around the world have declared that the mobile phone has become a source of headache for them, in the literal sense of the word. Once the doctors set up an experiment to reveal the connection between the headache and the cellular ones, while some of its participants complained of indisposition, even if instead of real phones they were “affected” by dummies.
The placebo effect is so pronounced that it can turn a not very successful joke into a real tragedy. As a vivid example of pernicious self-suggestion, the famous German psychiatrist Erich Menninger von Lerhental cited the following story that happened to his students in Vienna. Wanting to teach a university employee a lesson, the students dragged him into a room that had been prepared in advance, blindfolded and announced that they would be beheading him now. The head of the accident was placed on a wooden deck, and then the jokers hit him on the neck with a wet cold towel. At the same time, the victim of the cruel hoax died.
Nochebo is able to influence not only a person’s well-being, but also physiological parameters. In medical circles, a case that occurred in 2007 is widely known. The patient, who was undergoing treatment for depression, decided to settle the scores with his life and swallowed a few dozen pills prescribed to him. The man collapsed to the lifeless right in the corridor of the clinic, his blood pressure plummeted, and if not for the urgent measures taken by the doctors who came to the rescue in time, he would not be alive. The most amazing thing is that the blood test did not reveal any potent substances in the body of a failed suicide. The doctors who “pumped out” him puzzled over a mysterious incident for a while and only a few hours later
Nochebo is able to influence not only a person’s well-being, but also physiological parameters. In medical circles, a case that occurred in 2007 is widely known. The patient, who was undergoing treatment for depression, decided to settle the scores with his life and swallowed a few dozen pills prescribed to him. The man collapsed to the lifeless right in the corridor of the clinic, his blood pressure plummeted, and if not for the urgent measures taken by the doctors who came to the rescue in time, he would not be alive. The most amazing thing is that the blood test did not reveal any potent substances in the body of a failed suicide. The doctors who “pumped out” him puzzled over a mysterious incident for some time, and only a few hours later the patient’s doctor explained that he had participated in an experiment to study the placebo effect and nearly died of an “overdose” with sweet “dummies”.
Of course, all this looks a bit ridiculous, but according to Fabrizio Benedetti, a neurophysiologist from the Medical School at the University of Turin, the nocebo can really kill a person. Waiting and fear of indisposition affect the hypothalamus, pituitary and the adrenal medulla in the most direct way, provoking a powerful hormonal explosion. By and large, the body doesn’t care whether the danger is real or “created” by the brain – if the fear of the threat is strong enough, there is a risk of death.
As mentioned earlier, the nocebo effect can be transmitted through gossip and rumors. The same Benedetti last year arranged the following experiment. He suggested that a group of more than a hundred students make a trip to the mountains, at a height of about 3 thousand meters and a few days before the trip informed one of them that rarefied mountain air could trigger a migraine. The “Initiate” conveyed the news to his comrades, and by the day of the campaign about a quarter of its participants complained of a severe headache. Moreover, their analyzes showed that boys and girls had just returned from a mountain hike, where they breathed air with low oxygen content. “The brain biochemistry of those infected with rumors has changed,” says the neurophysiologist.
In other words, the nocebo effect can spread as a kind of epidemic and cover quite numerous groups of people. At the same time, a person sometimes does not even understand what caused the illness – according to some data, the nocebo acts and is transmitted at the level of subconscious signals.
A few more examples of mysterious mass ailments, which can be explained, perhaps, only by the flashes of the nocebo effect. In July 1518, a woman was seen outside in the French city of Strasbourg, who performed a strange dance that lasted for several days. It was joined by other citizens and gradually the “flash mob” grew to nearly 400 participants.

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