Placebo and Witch Doctors
Using the placebo, which is our natural healing capacity has to be vital for good counselling.
Good Healers harness the Placebo
As healers, witch doctors will have used placebo. And witch doctor played a big part in times past and still do in certain parts of the world. Today more than ever we have many healers – from energy healers, body healers, using stones and mystical rites etc. etc. and maybe even counsellors. Are we the modern day witch doctors? And what can we learn from them?
Three categories of witch doctor
First are the truly mystical and adept. They comprehend the psychic and supernatural and who “know” how to heal and the circumstances when healing is possible.
The second category is the wise and experienced. They understand that the mind/body can work powerfully to heal and mend and that all healing has to harness that capacity. They know that if the patient can harness his natural healing capacity by believing that he will heal, why then he is well on his way.
Thirdly, we have the charlatans and deceivers. They play on the fears of the afflicted to relieve them of their money. Having said that, if the sick patient believes in what the charlatan witch doctor is doing, who is to say that this will not be enough to heal?
And then we have medics.
Medical Doctors and Witch Doctors
It is worth reminding ourselves as to how medics decide whether a new drug or procedure is proven and how the placebo effect is taken into account. Conventional medicine goes to great lengths to take out the placebo effect when testing for new drugs and procedures. That is why there is the neutral pill to compare the results with those who take the real stuff.
But what is the placebo? It is surely the harnessing of our natural mind/body healing capacity? And the placebo will always be harnessed by the witchdoctor.
The ambivalence of conventional medicine to the existence of the placebo effect is a clue as to why conventional medicine is so rarely about healing (as opposed to body fixing) and why it can be so unsatisfactory, especially for dealing with mental difficulties.
This is what the United Kingdom Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology has to say: : “…prescribing placebos… usually relies on some degree of patient deception” and “prescribing pure placebos is bad medicine. Their effect is unreliable and unpredictable and cannot form the sole basis of any treatment on the NHS.”
Now, doctors may be happy to reject our natural healing capacity as bad medicine, but no good counsellor would dream of doing the same. It is hard not to conclude that our doctors may learn about good medicine but they pick up some very questionable healing habits on the way.