Harnessing the Placebo's Compassion

Compassion is the key to creating a better reality We have learned from our research that compassion, which we define as new and incremental love, is primarily responsible for making changes in fields correlated with incremental love, like unity, happiness, healing, health, longevity, creativity, productivity, and other positive things we want.

To start, we would like to share with you what our minds are capable of doing in the field of healing, as an example. We will offer our analysis and what we have learned about the placebo, a fake medicine.

Since the placebo is “fake” but something real and positive is happening, it will be easy to see from this example what our minds are capable of doing. Then we will review what we have learned about compassion so we can begin to project the infinite possibilities to other fields.

Background: Placebo, Beliefs and Expectations
The word placebo comes from Latin and means, “I shall please.” The patient’s intent is to please the self and doctor -- the doctor’s intent is to please the patient and self. Both intentions have been proven to have a positive effect on the patient, and they are additive.

We would define the placebo effect as the incremental healing taking place when you believe and expect you are going to get better from medicine or procedure, fake or real.

To determine the effect of the placebo a researcher would need a random group receiving the placebo pill (or procedure) and a random group receiving no placebo pill (or procedure). Then, the no-placebo group’s overall health would be subtracted from the placebo group’s overall health to determine the incremental overall health due to the placebo effect alone.
The dictionary defines "placebo" as "a substance containing no medication and prescribed or given to reinforce a patient's expectation to get well."

Now I will synthesize, analyze and summarize some of the placebo’s research. The placebos will be arranged from their smaller to larger effects, showing the relationships of the variables and the size of their effects.

Assume we have access to one very large group of people, all with the same problem for which they might see their doctor and take a pill. Then we randomly divide the very large group into several large subgroups, alike in every way.

Chart: How the Mind Makes Placebos Work

Synthesis, Analysis & Summary.
Group 1. A control group is used in experiments to show what would have happened in a random group when no drug or placebo was given. In this case we let it be 0%.

Group 2. When people are given a placebo (fake medicine or procedure) and everyone is told what they are getting is a fake, there still is a positive effect of around +10%, versus the control group.

Group 3. When people are given a placebo and everyone is told they are getting either a fake or real drug, the average placebo effect is now well over 30%.

Group 4. When people are given a starch pill containing all the inactive ingredients contained in the real drug pill, its effect is greater than when the ingredient is just the starch. Is it possible that each new ingredient adds new meaning to a placebo, making a few more people believe they have the real thing, thus enhancing the effect of the placebo?

Group 5. When an effective herb is added to a placebo with inactive ingredients, the effect is greater than without it. Does the consumer know the difference in an “inactive” or “active” ingredient, or is it really just the addition of more meaning to more people?

Group 6. A pill with an “active” ingredient tested significantly better than the control but was later removed from the market for being ineffective. It likely was reacted to as a placebo pill with just one more ingredient in the mind of the consumer. This looks like a validation of the one-more-ingredient placebo effect theory.

Group 7. I had two clients from different drug companies, who volunteered they had to stop testing their pills with their traditional samples of people because the placebo had grown from around 40% to now approaching 90%, making it impossible for their new drugs to beat the placebo. They now test within different contexts, where the placebo effect is much lower.

Group 8. The ideal pill, not represented here, would have the optimum number of ingredients, each contributing incremental, inexpensive and minor irritants, so the maximum number of people believe and anticipate they are getting the real thing. This would maximize the placebo effect, do no harm and be inexpensive.

What is going on here?

  How do people use a fake drug to enhance their healing rate from +10% to +80%? How can people within one context have a higher healing rate than people in another context, given they are all taking the same fake drug? And finally, how can different people through time increase the healing rate within the same context from perhaps +10% all the way up to +80%, using the same fake medicine?

  The placebo effect seems to be telling us that things may not be as they seem in modern medicine. The placebo is doing the heavy lifting of healing versus drugs. What, then, distinguishes drugs in the market from placebos in the market? Maybe it is not the R&D or chemistry but the authority of the M. D. and pharmacist, the brand name and the advertising. But maybe there is no difference in the marketplace between placebos and drugs, other things being equal, except for the toxic effects of the drugs.
As all consumers learn what some consumers are doing with their minds, there soon may be no need for "real" drugs.

How does the mind learn how to heal?
Intention, belief and expectation seem to be variables of healing and creating a better reality. But maybe there is more to it than that.


One well-respected medical researcher has said,
“…The bigger and more dramatic the patient perceives the intervention to be, the bigger the placebo effect. Big pills have more than small pills, injections have more than pills and surgery has the most of all."—Dr. Nelda Wray quoted by author Margaret Talbot in her article, "The Placebo Prescription," NY Times Magazine, 25Apr99
Dr. Walter A. Brown, professor of psychiatry said,
“…when placebos are given for pain management, the course of pain relief follows what you would get with an active drug. The peak relief comes about an hour after it's administered, as it does with the real drug, and so on. If placebo analgesia was the equivalent of giving nothing, you'd expect a more random pattern."—The Placebo Prescription
Maybe it is not that the placebo follows the drug but that the drug and placebo are not perceived to be different in the mind of the consumer and both act alike and according to consumer beliefs and expectations.
“At an outpatient psychiatric clinic in 1965, two researchers from John Hopkins University gave 15 adult 'neurotics' an inert pill identified as such. With straight faces, the doctors told them that 'many people with your kind of condition have also been helped by what are sometimes called sugar pills, and we feel that a so-called sugar pill may help you, too. Do you know what a sugar pill is? A sugar pill is a pill with no medicine in it at all. I think this pill will help you as it has helped so many others. Are you willing to try this pill?' Fourteen of the patients were convinced by this vaguely smarmy-sounding pitch (the 15th dropped out after her husband made fun of the idea), and after a week all reported ameliorated symptoms. Some thought the pill definitely was a placebo and some thought it must actually be an active drug, but either way, they had faith that the doctor was trying to help them, and they improved. At the least, then, Brown's idea deserves to be tested out with a bigger, more reliable study.” —The Placebo Prescription

"’The secret of the care of the patient,’ wrote Dr. Francis W. Peabody in a popular essay for doctors, ‘is in caring for the patient.’ It may also be the secret of the placebo.”—The Placebo Prescription

"’The placebo effect can occur,’ as the physician Herbert Spiegel once put it, ‘when conditions are optimal for hope, faith, trust and love.’”—The Placebo Prescription
So in addition to intention, belief and expectation, it may be that compassion and love are involved in creating healing, health and perhaps other things.
Could it be that we harness the same power as the placebo all the time but do not know we do it? The above placebo information shows that it is possible to affect our beliefs and expectations, which seem to relate to an open mind, perhaps letting in compassion to do its work, all without knowing it is happening. Let us investigate compassion’s role.
We have conducted proprietary experiments with compassion, finding it to be a key to overall health and creating a better reality.

First, we offer some definitions.
Resonance, quantum physicists would say, is a relationship of two or more entities vibrating on the same frequency and becoming stronger because of it. We are surrounded with resonating entities, all made up of energy and information. Resonance may be the fastest growing force in the universe.
Love is the human form of resonance. Resonance to the scientist is love to the poet.
Compassion is new, incremental love created by our mind’s intent.
Dissonance is the lack of resonance.

Here are some findings and conclusions. (For more detail of our research and experiments, leading up to these findings and conclusions, see our Compassion Experiments.)
  1. Compassion Between We discovered how to create and maintain the flow of information and successful communications between people. These are necessary to create healing and a better reality.
    1. In our research we discovered dissonance between most people. It distorted their communications, disallowing the intent of their information from transferring. It existed when senders and receivers were different from one another in terms of their demographics of income, race, gender and perhaps religion, politics and philosophy.
    2. When senders and receivers shared the same demographics, there was no dissonance and the intent of the information transferred.
    3. In our experiments we found that when senders of the information first showed empathy and care, as in compassion, for their receivers, the dissonance of their differences was replaced with the resonance of their unity. Then, the intent of their information manifested, creating successful communications.
    4. Interestingly, the dissonance between the people was due to their perceptions of their differences but not the physical differences because when senders/receivers replaced the dissonance of their differences with the resonance of their unity, the physical differences remained.
    5. Perhaps a rule for creating a better reality should be to first create compassion as the context within which you create everything else.
  1. We discovered how to create and maintain the flow of information and successful communications within ourselves. This is necessary for healing, creating and maximizing a better reality.
    1. Through time, dissonance occurs in our internal communications. It interferes with the information transference between cells necessary to keep us healthy, happy and alive.
    2. Dissonance occurs when we do not create compassion and feelings of love inside us for some period of time. A void of compassion leads to the negative warning symptoms of depression, pain, sickness and disease.
    3. We surmise what we wrote in b above because dissonance is more inclined to result when we ignore ourselves for periods of time. Then, when we create feelings of compassion and replace dissonance with resonance, information is more likely to flow and healing to occur.
    1. In a compassion void, between and within people, dissonance occurs in communications, preventing the intent of the information to transfer. With no compassion, the correlates of fear -- depression, pain, sickness, and disease result.
    2. With compassion and the feelings of love, dissonance is replaced with resonance and the correlates of love -- enhanced unity, healing, health, happiness, longevity, creativity and productivity result.
  1. We discovered that compassion works as a tool on two levels to create a better reality. It works locally through our senses within the context of time and space and it works nonlocally, independently of our senses, time and space.
    1. As an example of this, say a friend is sick in bed and you visit her. She feels how you empathize with and care for her, you see her gratitude for you, reflecting your compassion, and together you both feel better, responding healthier and happier through your unity.
    2. As an example, let us say you cannot visit your sick friend so you stop what you are doing for a moment and think a positive thought about her, or you wish her well or send her a prayer. Our research shows your compassionate intent alone can have a positive effect on her, nonlocally. And it definitely has a positive effect on you, locally. Here are some interesting articles about nonlocal, distant healing
    3. The local and nonlocal may work together. That is, while you are visiting her and working through the senses, your compassionate intent also may be working but not through the physical world.
  1. In addition to the above experiments on the positives of resonance and compassion, we conducted research on the negatives without knowing we were doing it, thinking in advance we were working on positives. (See more detail at Compassion Experiments.) Findings of negative information help us better understand findings of positive information.
      In the past we worked for a number of drug company clients to help them develop and test consumer communications for their branded products. From experiments, we learned that drug company ads create fear by mentioning or insinuating pain, sickness and disease. That refocuses consumer attention from the positives of resonance and unity, within and between, to the negatives of dissonance and separation. This results in 1) distressing and depressing the consumers’ overall health, 2) a never-ending search for relief and 3) more buyers buying the advertised brands for relief. These results were consistent.

      When we refocus from the positives of love, contentment and unity to the negatives of fear, stress and separation, we get less of what we focus from and more of what we focus to. When focusing on negatives, they give us the things correlated with negatives, like the symptoms of depression, pain, sickness and disease. It seems the longer we focus on the negatives of separation the more we create more separation and negatives in our physical and mental reality. This may be how pain, disease and conditions are created and get worse. Some time ago I stopped saying, “I have the flu,” “I have a pain,” or “I have a broken bone,” and started saying, “I am recovering from,” whatever it is. After writing this I will start saying, “I am returning to wholeness.”

      When we focus on compassion's negative correlate of fear, we first create separation from resonance and love, within and between us. Then we create or reinforce the pain, sickness and disease we say we do not want.

      When we measured overall health associated with the ads, the average length of time after receiving the advertising was ten weeks. The depressed health was still present at that time. It is possible the depressed health from the negative information of the advertising will continue indefinitely, meaning that fear and its correlates may accumulate inside us.
      1. As we choose to focus more often on the feelings of love and compassion, the positive correlates automatically self-select into our lives. Deepak Chopra, M.D., and Wayne Dyer, Ph.D., call it synchronicity. Directly correlated with incremental love are happiness, healing, health, longevity, creativity, productivity and many other positive values.
      2. You have heard the expression: Is your glass half full or half empty? Well, it is easier to fill the half full glass of water if you focus on more water and easier to fill the half empty glass of air if you focus on more air. Everything is about being positive.
      3. There is evidence that compassion accumulates inside us, perhaps in a reservoir of love. And there is an indication that fear accumulates inside us, perhaps in pain, disease and death.

    2. We define positive information as anything correlated with compassion; negative information as dissonance, not correlated with compassion. And we can turn negatives into positives, like the glass above. Nevertheless, what we get is a result of our choices and if we really want something positive we have to continue to focus on and choose the positives, even as the negative information from others and ourselves distract to attract us.
Harnessing Compassion
Here is a six-step summary about how to create a better reality in general. It is based on what we have learned from our experiments and the research of compassion, healing and health.
  1. Keep An Open Mind.
    It helps to believe and expect you will succeed. But perhaps it is more about keeping our mind open to the possibility we create healing and our own reality. The open mind may be necessary so the needed information can move between and within to help us. Physicists say that all the energy and information that has ever existed or will ever exist is here now. That means we need an open mind to let the energy and information flow between and within us.
  2. Focus Your Attention And Compassion.
    Use attention and compassion with others and yourself to replace dissonance with resonance and communicate more successfully about everything. Use gratitude as often as possible. It is a reflector, creating more compassion, adding to the pool of love.
  3. Use Locality And Nonlocality.
    Communicate compassion physically through your senses and mentally with your intent to help others and yourself.
  4. Always Replace Negatives With Positives.
    Find something positive in everything and everybody and dwell on it so it grows. Be optimistic and see the glass as half full and needing more water, or half empty and needing more air. When others ask, “How are you?” stop, think and tell them how you want to be, “Excellent!” You will become excellent more of the time. When you are not excellent you will know it because you will give some other flip answer like, “Fine.” I interpret my less than “Excellent!” answers as me being under too much stress to give the answer I want. In that case I immediately create the feelings of compassion and love to remove the stress and its source.

The source of all pain & disease is Compassion Deficit Disorder. The source of all healing & health is compassion replenishment

  1. Focus On Unity, the Whole, And Not the Parts.
    It is as if the data were indicating that everything wants to be connected to everything else because everything that joins to resonate seems to do better. Healing seems to be due to thinking about the whole, i.e. the whole mind rather than mind, body, spirit, you, me, my knee, my back, my headache. We are all “mind” and if we give the whole more attention and compassion we will be whole more of the time and heal faster, if and when needed.

    Creating a better reality seems to result from thinking about the whole. When, as a researcher, I select 1,000 people at random for my studies, I now infer they are just different parts of the same mind, all free to explore and experiment in how their whole mind works.
  2. Practice and Be Patient.
    Remember, it takes time to create enough compassion and accumulate enough love for the positives to outweigh the negative and begin to see progress. Use these steps 1-6 and the practices linked to the Practices button on the left side of the GoodSamIAm.org homepage. With practice it did not take me long before I noticed I was creating my own reality. I have been happier in every way since.
I wish you well and stay tuned for more new findings as our new research is revealed.


1. Kirsch, Irving, Ph.D., Sapirstein, Guy, Ph.D. "Listening to Prozac but Hearing Placebo: A Meta-Analysis of Antidepressant Medication," Discussion," Prevention & Treatment, Volume 1, Article 0002a, posted June 26, 1998, Copyright 1998 by the American Psychological Association




1. Harnessing the Placebo's Compassion   2. Compassion Theory of Healing & Health    3. Compassion Experiments

Why Is Soup Good Food? Compassion.         How Mind Over Matter Works

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