Imaginative Remedies

He was an experienced physician. “At times it happens”, he reported, “that I cannot give a medication to a patient because it is too expensive or too hard to obtain. How, may I ask, can I provide a remedy made out of lion’s milk? In some of these cases I tell the patients to write the name of the remedy on a sheet of paper, and to have a close look at it. The startling thing is: for those who follow this advice, the effect of the paper is about the same as the effect of the remedy, had it been taken.” A woman who heard this story laughed about it. She had been working for years as a nurse in the intensive care ward of a hospital, and had helped to save more than one patient’s life by giving himthem the right medication at the right time. What would have happened if she had handed himthem a sheet of paper instead, showing the name of histheir medication? Some days after this conversation, she woke up with a severe headache. She knew it was nothing serious, only this well-known pain, which a doctor had once described as being there simply for the sake of being. She knew that she did not have any pills at home. She imagined putting a glass of water next to her bed. She envisioned how she would throw a pill in the water, and how it would dissolve. She pictured herself drinking the water in little sips how the water would be absorbed by her body, and how the medication would become effective.

She fell asleep for a few minutes then woke up again and went to work. Everything was as usual. When she looked back on her day late at night, she noticed that her headache had vanished in the minutes after she had taken the imagined remedy, and that she had completely forgotten about it for the rest of the day.

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