The Defy Aging Newsletter

Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness

a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.

Number 114

This issue:

Optimism: The Mental Placebo


Take the leap of faith and be an optimist.


It's amazing how thousands of drug studies find a sizable portion of the benefits of a drug come from the power of suggestion. For example, in a classic study, half of the medical students were given red pills they were told were amphetamines (that really were sedatives). Half of these students reported feeling a burst of energy. The other medical students were given blue pills and were told were sedatives (that were really amphetamines). Half of them reported feeling calmer.

Because of the power of suggestion, credible drug studies must include a placebo comparison group. On the average, placebo effects account for a third of the benefits of treatments--whether the treatment is a medication or psychotherapy.

Research on optimism finds that optimisms are more successful and have better health. For example, a study of men who had a heart attack found that eight years later 24% of the optimists had died and 84% of the pessimists had died. Similar findings apply to women with breast cancer. Martin Seligman rated essays by class of 1945-46 Harvard freshman found that at age 45 the optimisms were in good health but many of the pessimists were developing health problems. By age 60 the difference was even more pronounced.

I'm struck by how similar the power of expectation is with placebos and with optimism. Similar forces are at work, but with placebos we have to be fooled. With optimism, we only need to take a leap of faith.


A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

~Sir Winston Churchill

~Results? Why, man, I have gotten lot of results! If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward. Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.

~Thomas Edison


If you liked Placebo, be sure to try Placebo Plus--with 33% more inert ingredients.

The difference between an optimist and a pessimist--The optimist invented the airplane. The pessimist, the parachute.

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"Dr. Michael Brickey, The Anti-Aging Psychologist, teaches people to think, feel, look and be more youthful. He is an inspiring keynote speaker and Oprah-featured author. His works include:  Defy Aging, 52 baby steps to Grow Young, and Reverse Aging (anti-aging hypnosis CDs). Visit for a free report on anti-aging secrets and a free newsletter with practical anti-aging tips."

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