Last week, The Scientist came out with an article by Megan Scudellari, called “Worried Sick” with the subtitle, “Expectations can make you ill. Fear can make you fragile. Understanding the nocebo effect may help prevent this painful phenomenon.”
This article from the Scientist, will form the basis of a blog series, so before you read further in this blog, please read The Scientist article. The fundamental concepts lay out a framework which will radically alter medical research and has the potential to completely mess with a person’s ability to know what the doctor means by the words they say, or even what they are thinking. And as you read this, remember the saying that “He who holds the Gold, makes the rules.”
Part One, “Words from Memory Lane” was written to set the scene for the rest of the blogs to come.
First, let’s define terms, and flawed assumptions.
NOCEBO. When the medical profession uses the term Nocebo, their definition is, “a harmless substance that when taken by a patient is associated with harmful effects due to negative expectations or the psychological condition of the patient”
Right here is the first flawed assumption….. “a harmless substance”. Many things that the medical profession define as harmless, are highly dangerous.
The second flawed assumption can be seen in a quote from The Scientist article, which states that any nocebo effects come from a “quality inherent in the patient, rather than the remedy.”
To believe the rest of the article, the reader must accept as inarguable scientific fact, their foundational premise, that the “remedy” is always a “harmless” substance, and any reactions or complications are always because of a flaw (quality inherent) in the patient.
That is implied in the last third of the subtitle, where it infers if people understood that they were the problem, not the drug, then side effects wouldn’t happen.
Just think of the new raft of “diagnostic criteria” which the industry can make out of this concept.
“Science” upgraded the "frigid mothers cause autism", to “Mothers who get flu in pregnancy cause premature birth, and autism” --- hence the push to give the flu vaccine, ignoring the fact that mothers have always been susceptible to any infection during pregnancy, yet the rates of autism and premature birth, continue to sky-rocket. Nevertheless, the silent message is still the same. No finger must ever point at a doctor or a drug.
In the last paragraph of The Scientist article, we read, “Most doctor’s don’t know what nocebo is,” which is contradicted in the next statement: “They all know that the way you talk to a patient has enormous influence on side effects, mood and state of mind.”
So which is it to be? They either know, .... or they don’t.
The knowledge of nocebo was exemplified in a book called “The Hazards of Immunization", by Sir Graham Wilson (a pdf copy of which can be obtained from the Soil and Health Library), based on his 1966 lecture series delivered at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. When Sir Wilson expanded those lectures into his book, he wrote the following on page 4 and 5 in the introduction:
“The risks attendant on the use of vaccines and sera are not as well recognised as they should be. Indeed our knowledge of them is still too small and the incomplete knowledge we have is not widely disseminated. This was forcibly brought home to me when I read a statement by a university lecturer in bacteriology, at a symposium in 1965 on immunization, that the first recorded disaster associated with a vaccine was that known as the Lubeck tragedy. The failure of a health officer to appreciate the risks of immunization is regrettable enough, but that a medical bacteriologist should be wholly ignorant of the long series of accidents that occurred during the forty years before 1930, struck me as being almost incredible, till I reflected that his ignorance must be due to the almost complete absence of information on the subject in current textbooks of bacteriology. The lesson to be learnt is the importance of approaching any subject from a historical angle, for unless we know and can benefit from the mistakes of our predecessors, we are liable to make even greater mistakes ourselves.”
“The woeful record I present of the accidents attendant on immunisation and the ways in which they have arisen will not be complete. Far from it in fact. Even if I had had time to comb the whole of the relevant literature, I should still not have been in a position to give a complete record. This is mainly because a large number of accidents – I suspect the majority – have never been reported in print, either through fear of compensation claims, or of giving a weapon to the anti-vaccinationists, or for some other reason.”
“Admittedly most of the larger accidents have been reported, but even with some of these, attempts were made to keep knowledge of them from the public. Very few, however, of the sporadic accidents have been published. The late Dr J. R. Hutchinson of the Ministry of Health collected records of fatal immunological accidents during the war years, and was kind enough to show them to me. I was frankly surprised, when I saw them, to learn of the large number of person in the civil and military population that had died apparently as the result of attempted immunisation against some disease or other.”
“Yet only a very few of these were referred to in the medical journals.”
“When one considers that Dr Hutchison’s record covered only four or five years, and was limited to Great Britain, and that in other countries - in Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Australia, probably much the same proportion of accidents was occurring; and further, that such accident have probably been going on for the last sixty or seventy years, one realizes what a very small proportion can ever have been described in the medical literature of the world.”
This was exactly the situation in 1981, when our first son was born. There was absolutely no information on potential side effects, and doctors maintained that they never happened.
Finding any records of vaccine reaction was like finding gumboots on hens.
After three years, I started to unearth the facts, and realised that doctors are most reluctant to even recognise something might go wrong, particularly when they put the needle in a child themselves. Later in 1986, after the New Zealand Herald published a feature article on our work, we were deluged for months, with phone calls and letters from New Zealand parents grateful that finally someone had asked questions which validated what they believed. They all, without fail, said:
1) They were NEVER given any information about what vaccines might do, other than that they saved the world.
2) They were ALWAYS told that THEIR child was the ONE IN A MILLION, and that never before had any such thing been seen.
3) Their child was NEVER reported as a vaccine reaction.
The sheer volume of these phone calls, and letters from parents, was overwhelming and an eye-opener to us. Here was the first anecdotal confirmation (other than Sir Wilson's book) that there existed a hidden problem, historically and systemically denied by the medical system.
So this was the “climate” of ignorance handed down to parents, back in the 80’s and before, which forms an important backdrop to the blogs to come, with regard to The Scientist article.
The medical profession as individuals, and the system, have controlled, and to this day control the bland rhetoric, because even back then, they knew about nocebo.
Doctors and the medical system knew before, and after Sir Wilson's day, that if they admitted to any parent, that vaccines had caused their child's serious health problems, word would get out, and then other people might wake up to their own child's problems. Parents might understand that they were lied to, and also realise that informational silence isn’t golden, except to the system. Silence is sometimes simply yellow.
To be continued.