Have You Ever Applied the Placebo Effect to Yourself?

if_you_believe_it_willI have seasonal hay fever allergies that are rarely an issue thanks to a generic, over-the-counter allergy pill I take every morning. But yesterday, there was something in the air that was really aggravating my sinuses.

I was kind of at a loss as to what to do. I couldn’t take another allergy pill. Splashing water on my face only helped for a few minutes. Meditating just made me sleepy.

Then I remembered that I have an electronic air filter/fan. The actual filter in it is woefully outdated, resulting in a device that is effectively a fan.

What if, I thought, what if I just tell myself it’s still a real air filter? If I really believe there’s no difference between it and a functional air filter, perhaps my allergies will improve.

Basically, I tried to apply the placebo effect to myself. This probably has little to no effect, even psychological, as I can’t not know that the air filter doesn’t work. But I hoped that there was just enough room for possibility in my mind: The slim chance that the air filter actually does still work.

Regardless, it actually worked. It wasn’t a 100% perfect solution, as my allergies didn’t go away, but I kind of forgot they were there. The worst part about them–the constant aggravation–greatly decreased.

Have you ever done this? Is this even a thing? Does the placebo effect have any effect if you’re fully aware that it’s a placebo?

3 thoughts on “Have You Ever Applied the Placebo Effect to Yourself?”

  1. I think the key is that you didn’t know 100% that the air filter didn’t work, that there was a slim and not inconceivable chance that it would work. So it’s basically a Schrodinger cat situation, and so the placebo effect works.

    The funny thing about me is that I start taking new medication in the very firm belief it will do nothing (my parents refused to give me medication, whether pharmaceutical or, I guess, “natural”, even for large amounts of pain, so I have much less experience with the miracles of medicine/herbs/whatever). But then it has a decided effect, and often something I didn’t expect at all. As it turns out, possibly thanks to not having had medicine growing up, most medications affect me very strongly.

    I dunno about applying actual placebo effect to myself while knowing it was a placebo 100%. It probably wouldn’t affect me.

    (Fun fact: when I escaped my parents and got to a stable living situation I immediately went to a doctor and got all the vaccines that everyone gets as babies, because I was born in the 70s and my parents were apparently ancient anti-vaxxers, and it’s amazing I even survived childhood, for various reasons.)

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ava. I’m glad there’s a slim chance my placebo effect worked. It’s interesting that the opposite happens with you when you assume real medicine won’t work (and I’m glad you finally got those vaccines!).

  2. Yes, it works all the time on me. I like to think that on certain matters I choose to believe in the power of whatever product, service, or idea would be benefiting me in that moment. I wish I could remember a specific example.


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