The placebo creates a ceremony of expectation. It builds off novelty and reinvigorates confidence in the possibility of recovery.
We all fall victim to the soft mental implantation of a placebo, the oldest medicine in the world. One simple belief kickstarts a chemical revolution. But in reality, the answer just needed to be poked from dormancy.
Reawakened, the inner narrative thrives on hedonic editing.
We certify the belief in our internal storage. Over time, it gains credibility and records the transaction on the human block chain of the genetic code. Truth happens to the idea
If at first, we expect, then we can succeed. It is faith that moves mountains.
That’s the short and sweet dietary advice offered by journalist Michael Pollan. But after writing Cooked, now he’s back with a new challenge: psychedelics.
Pollan’s autobiography on his first-hand experience with LSD and mushrooms are sure to interest people once more. He tells the Financial Times:
“There is a reason this book came into my life at this time,” he says. The author was turning 60, and felt the need to break mental habits, to “shake up the snow globe”: “taking the drugs and writing the book came from the same impulse: to try something new”.
Despite one bad experience smoking venom of the Sonoran Desert Frog, most of his trips were like enhanced meditations.
The highlight was going through “ego-dissolution”. Ego is, in many ways, the villain of Pollan’s book — a vigilant, tyrannical force that gets things done and looks after one’s interests, but is fearful and prevents “a fusion of the personal self into a larger whole”. As he writes in How to Change Your Mind, on mushrooms Pollan felt “a merging with other people, with nature . . . I realised that the ground of your ego is not the only ground on which you can stand. And that was a mind-blowing idea.” Channelling Aldous Huxley, he felt that “a door . . . opened for me on to a realm of human experience that for 60 years had been closed”.
In addition to seeking his own personal ‘reboot,’ Pollan’s other ambition was to shake up the stigma around psychedelic therapy and microdosing popularized in Silicon Valley. Keep in mind that Steve Jobs said that taking LSD was one of the “two or three most important things” he did in life.
While Pollan is not advocating for the legalization of LDS and other potent drugs, his experience suggests that their mental benefits are worthy of more research.
Dopamine is a superpower. Our brain hunts it down in the expectation of feeding it with some type of satisfaction, be it coffee or social media.
But our anticipation often exceeds reality. The coffee aroma smells better than the grounded beans actually taste. Capturing the photo and preparing to share it feels better than receiving all the likes.
Our imagination swims in desire, all the while ignoring the risks for drowning in it. Like a magnet, we are drawn to the pleasures of irreality. There’s no stopping us from swinging into a narcotic sunset.
What if the learner’s fear could be construed as a positive challenge? What a skier—or anyone—could be made to believe that the pounding and fluttering were actually a resource, tools for enhanced performance?
If you look at stress in positive light, “reappraise arousal,” and get excited about the forthcoming challenge you’re more likely to have positive results.
It’s just a simple mind hack. Change your focus, change your perspective, increase focus and “physiological toughness.”