Many of us have heard of the placebo effect, which asserts that the subconscious mind is so powerful, your thoughts have the ability to manifest healing. There have been numerous studies published proving the amazing power of your mind in recovery. In one such study designed to determine if the beneficial effects still exist when a patient is aware they’re receiving a placebo, nearly 60 percent of the patients given a placebo pill reported satisfactory relief from the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), compared to only 35 percent of those who did not receive any treatment.
Even more astonishing, those who took the placebo reported progress that was effectively equal to that reported from people taking the strongest IBS medications!
Placebos generally have far fewer side effects (if they have any at all) than prescription drugs, injections or actual surgeries – and they often work just as well as the standard of care. In fact, placebos work about 18-80% of the time, and not just in your head – they can actually dilate bronchial tubes, heal ulcers, make warts disappear, drop your blood pressure, and even make bald men who think they’re getting Rogaine grow hair!
The Nocebo Effect in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
Unfortunately, the placebo effect has a doppelganger called the nocebo effect (“I will harm” in Latin), and its power is bringing about negative outcomes because of one’s belief in them. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy in which being informed of a pill or procedure’s potential side effects can actually provoke adverse reactions.
So what does all of this mean in the world of narcissistic abuse recovery?
It means the longer you research narcissism (past a reasonable limit) and hang out on the wrong narcissistic abuse “recovery” forums, the longer it could take you to heal, both psychologically and physically.
Some people never heal.
One sad example of the nocebo effect is evident via a comment left on my blog recently. A lady had been on one of the “recovery” forums and was told it takes ten years to process having been in love with a narcissist (with its devastating betrayals) and another ten years to heal.
So, according to the advice this woman received, she was ready to believe that she wouldn’t heal for approximately twenty years.
And that’s the danger of following the wrong abuse recovery forums and pages. A true recovery forum will focus less on narcissism and more on how to heal from the effects of it. A true recovery forum will help its followers transition out of the dark place of devastation into a place of empowerment and healing.
If a blog or recovery forum you follow is publishing the hundredth post about gas lighting, it may not be the right forum for you if you truly want to heal. If a site you visit consistently complements their narcissism posts with psychologically damaging visuals, you’ll want to think twice about what their true motives are.
What this means for you
The effects of narcissistic abuse are very real. I see evidence of it every day and experienced narcissistic abuse syndrome myself. But, when it comes to healing from it, there should be an organic transition from learning about the tactics of the narcissist to how to heal from those tactics.
If you suspect you have a medical condition, you might go to a web site such as WebMD and type in your symptoms. The natural progression would be “what to do” in order to heal the condition. You wouldn’t focus for years on looking up the symptoms. You would make an appointment with a doctor and do what you needed to do in order to get better. You might change your diet, commit to get more rest, or create more balance in your life.
The same goes for healing from narcissistic abuse.
Simply put, the longer you focus on narcissistic abuse and its devastating consequences, the longer the nocebo effect will take a toll on your health, livelihood, and mortality. There is simply no benefit in continuing to research narcissism five to ten years after the experience with a narcissist unless you are studying to be a licensed therapist, social worker, or other such healer.
In the event that you want to make sure you never attract another narcissist into your life, there are only two things you need, neither of which have to do with a narcissist.
Of course, if you are just learning that someone in your life could be a narcissist, you’ll want to educate yourself about their behaviors and what to expect. But, I would recommend limiting such research to six months or so – much like an academic subject in college. Then, you’ll want to graduate to the area of healing yourself.
Choosing habits that heal
The thing to remember is that in every moment we are alive, we have the power to choose. If you’re feeling powerless in the aftermath of narcissistic abuse, the empowering alternative is to learn what you can in order to bring yourself out of the ashes of devastation. Focus on how to love yourself, how to create healthy boundaries, and the power of energy healing.
The wounds that we need to repair in order to heal and grow from the experience of narcissistic abuse lie on the subconscious level. If you are feeding your psyche more and more material revolving around misery and defeat, then it will do little more than keep you in that disempowering place. Instead, hang out with people that are choosing healing habits. Follow forums that encourage you to move forward, not ones that keep you in a place of powerlessness and resignation.
Your mind can help you heal from the effects of narcissistic abuse. You just have to nourish it with healing information and practices.
Copyright 2016. Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach
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Kim Saeed is a recognized relationship and new life educator specializing in helping narcissistic abuse survivors to heal, rebuild, find purpose, and live joyfully after No Contact. In 2013, she founded Let Me Reach, a life transformation company that teaches people to flourish after toxic relationships.