Dumbo’s Feather

Many of us remember the Disney movie Dumbo starring the flying elephant.  Dumbo’s buddy, Timothy Q Mouse, realized that the only thing holding Dumbo back was his lack of self-confidence and tricked him into believing the power came from a magic feather. In the end, of course, Dumbo recognizes that power comes from within and flies on his own. Happily ever after. The End.

The idea is that we have the ability to accomplish great things if only we don’t allow negative thinking to hold us back. To a certain extent, that can be true, but we must recognize that even positive thinking has limits to its power. The book “The Secret” filled with tales of people acquiring riches, curing illness, or even reversing age related Presbyopia. CAM including prayer are often based on similar flawed ideas. If your treatment works, it’s sometimes claimed that the cure is based on the placebo effect; in other words, it’s all in your mind. It it doesn’t doesn’t work, it’s often because you didn’t want wellness hard enough. It comes down to personal failure.

There is even a name for the phenomenon that can be considered the opposite of a placebo—the nocebo effect (Latin for “I shall harm”). The term came from drug trials where a certain percentage of patients exhibited the potential side effects while receiving a pill containing no active ingredients, but is sometimes used to indicate the results of negative thinking.

While some of these effects are accidental some can be induced to a certain degree, to the point of triggering a negative attitude about your self-worth. This can have serious consequences for your mental health.

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