Similar to surgical implants, but consisting of mind-altering suggestion...
Increasingly often, it appears the path to treating painful threats to human health lies in the mind's susceptibility to suggestion. Depending on the problem and treatment options, harnessing the mind to heal itself requires ingenuity, stagecraft, and operant conditioning. Mental "stent" is one metaphor to describe this form of medical treatment. Let's discuss a partial list of the tools...
Placebos. Make no mistake. The mystery of the placebo hides one of the greatest Whodunits in modern Psychology. It's a major research frontier, a pioneering crusade to understand the mind's influence in connection to the physical form. Like, for instance, how do placebos work? Why are they so effective? What constitutes their basic neurophysiology?
Placebos are a secret treasure in the Great Unknown. A few of the things we do know about them --
They can make you sleepy, or energetic, depending on their suggested purpose. If they're in the form of an inert sugar pill, colors can make a noticeable difference. Reds are better "uppers," blues make better tranquilizers. Like LSD and psychedelics, the set and setting of their distribution can alter the final outcome.
As a mind stent, placebos needn't be in the form of an ingested substance. Fake operations, bogus devices, or such practices as acupuncture can effect profound changes in a patient. The more powerful the expectations of the participant, the greater the effect.
Hypnotism. Another form of "directed" suggestion, this ancient art has been used successfully as a substitute for anesthesia in surgical operations, and (like placebos) can affect the number of endorphins in the human body. The effects of hypnotism -- ranging from calming stage fright to curing tobacco addiction -- can be long-lasting and permanent.
Mirror therapy. Curing phantom limb pain, a condition in which an amputee's missing limb is often "felt" by the patient as frozen in a tight or uncomfortable position, represents another unique and formidable mental stent. It's a form of operant conditioning -- based, once again, on the brain's suggestibility.
Dr. Ramachandran, a famous neuroscientist and researcher in this field, has discovered that using a clever placement of mirrors to "fool" the patient into thinking his or her phantom limb is actually free and unfettered, often cures the condition after repeated exposure. The deed is performed by substituting a reflection of the patient's other intact limb to falsely represent the missing part, and by tricking the subject's motor reactions into feeling the intact limb, in its freedom of motion, to be that of the phantom.
Mirror therapy utilizes the brain's plasticity in the compromised neural wiring of phantom limb pain to remold itself, untangling the prior signals of constriction.
The mini-catalog outlined on this page describes a small sample of a larger enterprise. Additional "stents" exist or are being explored. In a sense, the mind stents described here are mental tricks that bluff the mind into better functioning. Additional tricks can be found here and on other pages of Mind Bluff.
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