magical thinking . . .
Even though I grew up in America, I am Chinese-born and am infused with Taoist beliefs and a healthy regard for a Cosmos that I am guided by when I pay attention to what is going on around me. Years ago, I had a bout of viral meningitis which only went away when I took concoctions of Chinese medicinal herbs. I had read a book called “The Web That Has No Weaver” about Traditional Chinese Medicine and met its author, Ted Kaptchuk when he was setting up a department to study alternative medicines at Harvard Medical School.
Recently, my shiatsu practitioner suggested a Chinese herb called “Restore Integrity,” to bring me back to a former self, prior to undertaking a life of over-responsibility, both personally and professionally. The naming of this herb came from Ted, who had also been a mentor to my shiatsu five elements therapist during her graduate studies.
A recent New Yorker article about Ted focused on aspects of a “placebo effect.” In other words, the patient gets well, not because of a treatment but because of something else. Here’s a definition that may help:
“The placebo effect is the measurable, observable, or felt improvement in health or behavior not attributable to a medication or invasive treatment that has been administered. The placebo effect is not mind over matter; it is not mind-body medicine. ‘The placebo effect’ has become a catchall term for a positive change in health not attributable to medication or treatment.”
So, if we are talking about positive changes in our outlook, a revitalized spring in our step, can we do that by believing in something and is that a kind of magical thinking?
I think so, don’t you?