Monday, October 18, 2010

Writing and Nocebo

A while back I wrote about the power of the placebo and the importance of belief in influencing behavior, even at the physical level. For writers, creative types, and, well, people in general, it is equally important to consider the nocebo effect.

Nocebo, of Latin origin, means "to do harm." The nocebo effect is based on a person's belief that a negative outcome will occur, such as when he or she takes a pill, or engages in some other form of treatment. In a larger sense, it is our anticipation of a negative outcome that actually encourages such an outcome. The pill taker doesn't receive benefit, or, in fact, experiences negative outcomes. The expectation of writer's block, poor golf game, negative visit with a friend or relative, etc., may prepare our bodies and minds for such outcomes, priming the pump.

We worry. We fret. Sometimes we fret about our worries. A lot of energy gets channeled into negative spaces. In art, that may lead to the creation of some really cool sculptures. In our daily lives, however, we're stacking the deck against ourselves.

To create a Freudian slip, "I'll see it when I believe it." Truer words were never spoken!

So, for today, for right now, what negative expectation will you cast aside? Shall we focus on positive outcomes?

Onward and upward!