T: Lipoma, warts
I: Cosmetic concerns, real placebo, reversing the focus of attention, ritual, magic spell (metaphor, negative model / positive model).
Many years ago I had a small round bulge on my thigh, which I ignored for around 18 months. Then I happened to be visiting my GP, and asked him what it was. “It’s a lipoma,” he answered, “a fatty lump. Keep an eye on it. If it doesn’t change it can stay, but if it grows it will have to come out.” I kept a close eye on the lipoma, and it started to grow, for the first time in 18 months. I went back to the GP, who removed it surgically.
Years later I told someone this story in order to highlight the fact that noticing something makes it grow; a small problem can turn into a large one if you pay it a lot of attention. I don’t know whether it was because of this conversation, but two weeks later the lipoma reappeared, at the same spot where a scar indicated that its predecessor had been removed.
“If the lipoma can grow by suggestion, it can also shrink by suggestion,” I thought. I remembered the wart charmer’s old folk remedy; “Rub the wart with spit three times every morning and every evening, using a different finger each time, and repeat three times; ‘Wart, wart, rub away.’” I wondered to myself whether the same would work for a lipoma, and decided to try. The lipoma had disappeared after three days