Can positive thinking make you well?

There is much to be gained and no risks involved in trying to reach the best state of mind possible, the author says.

Story highlights

  • Studies show contradicting data on whether positive thinking can aid health
  • Deepak Chopra: Placebo effect proves thinking is medicine and can be helpful if done properly
  • The real point isn't to rescue a dying patient but to maintain wellness, Chopra says
Observers may have noticed recently that mainstream medicine is taking a harder line against positive thinking.
Surveys of the leading research in the field conclude that recovery rates from cancer, for example, are not higher among patients who take a positive attitude about fighting their disease. Studies that show the reverse have been small and, according to their critics, flawed in serious ways.
Anyone would be forgiven for throwing up their hands. This seems like another example of dueling data, where one study's findings are contradicted by the next study, leaving the public in a state of confusion.
Doctors are confused, too. It has always been part of a doctor's kit bag to tell patients to keep their spirits up. Until a few decades ago, it was standard not to acquaint a dying patient with the gravity of his condition, which implies an unspoken agreement that hearing bad news isn't good for patients.
At the same time, doctors want to protect their profession, so few want to cross the