In recents years, the question about the effects of positive thinking in our health has become one of the most controversial debates in psychology and to some extent, in mainstream medicine. We all heard about it, yet a lot of us still link positive thinking with some kind of superstition. Regrettably, those who tend to believe in its power are the ones who either have faced the panic of disease or the ones who have accompanied their beloved ones in illness. Unfortunately, research in this field has not been conclusive. Nevertheless, in a very interesting piece for CNN, Deepak Chopra, a senior scientist and mind-body expert, explains how could it be that positive thinking actually have health impacts. A central point according to Chopra is for us to understand that this debate is not about rescuing a dying patient thanks to positive thinking, but rather if we can maintain our wellness through it. Indeed, the research question should be about understanding if positive thinking could prevent disease or help someone in the very early stages of sickness. He believes that up to a certain point, yes, it can. One of the arguments in favour of the optimists, is that “thinking is real medicine, as proven by the placebo effect“. An average of 30% of people subjected to placebo drugs really show a positive response. This is scientifically evidenced: as we believe that the pain will pass, our body connects to our mind and believes in it as well. As he states, “medicine cannot be definitive on how mood affects wellness. But if I wanted to enhance a state of wellness before symptoms of illness appeared, there is much to be gained and no risks involved in trying to reach the best state of mind possible“.
To our psychologist friends, please do tell us about what you think of this subject.