How Alternative Medicine works

or: The Nature of the Placebo Effect

[400 words]

Let’s think of the body and the mind as one thing.

This thing has energy. Depending on how you look at it, the energy looks different. For example: you can look at its energy in the form of glucose. You can look at its energy in the form of oxygen. Or you can look at its energy in the form of “Ooh, I’m feeling particularly sprightly this morning!”

This body/mind can fix a problem in two ways.

It can spend its energy trying to fix the problem “externally” — do something in the world, or resist something that is happening in the world. To do that, it grasps or clings to a certain outcome, to pull it closer or push it away. And by this, I include things like “convince a doctor-monkey to cut you open and move things around.”

It can also reroute the energy spent trying to change the world or resist the change of the world, and instead change itself directly. But for that, it has to flick a switch in itself, to reroute the energy, from outwards to inwards. Like changing the course of water in an irrigation system.

The Ancients (by definition) had primitive methods to change the world. So they focused more on strategies to get their mind to reroute their energy inwards, so that their body could heal itself.

The Moderns have developed more advanced methods to change the world. In order to develop those, they had to focus on those. Necessarily.

We are now in a time of trying to approach a balance.

Alternative Medicine is what we call practices which focus on effectuating that switch.

There’s nothing that can be done ‘externally’. The doctors can’t ‘fix’ you. You’re gonna have to fix yourself.

Thankfully, you’re not a machine.

So… let go

But you can’t just “let go”. So maybe try to do this instead. To do this, you have to drop what you were were doing before. Which is what we want.

So that is the nature of the so-called and much-misunderstood Placebo Effect. It functions mostly by getting someone to feel listened to. And then you give them some direction to route their mental (and, accordingly, physical) energies towards. Some work better than others, mostly depending on taste, but the basic features are fairly universal, so take your pick according to taste.

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