Revised June 28, 2017
In the truest sense of the word, only good, derived from God, is communicable, scientific and of lasting benefit. God’s thoughts never leave their source. They communicate only good — never evil — as the means to teach us beneficial lessons.
Erroneous beliefs can have many camouflages which cleverly masquerade as good while attempting to influence our thinking. Be assured that when evil presents itself, even if disguised as good, we are empowered by God to see through its machinations and to recognize precise spiritual truths, always at hand, that instantly bring clarity to our thought and dispel the confusion of mortal belief. But rest assured, although evil may come to us as in the disguise of good….good never comes to us in the disguise of evil.
When confronted with bad or fake news in which conflicting mortal opinions vie for our attention…we should ask, “What is the specific truth this error is trying to hide?” … because it is the Truth which heals, protects and teaches everything we ever need to know.
As recently as 1961, the term “Nocebo Reaction” was introduced to the medical profession by physician Walter P. Kennedy. (“The Nocebo Reaction”, Medical World, Vol. 95, September 1961, p. 203-205). And yet, over one hundred years ago, the concept was unveiled by Mary Baker Eddy as “aggressive mental suggestion,” — mortal mind’s claim that we are vulnerable, fragile, destructible mortals faced with endless dangers, opinions, and choices. Its purpose is to confuse and to generate fear, doubt, and uncertainty. By either term, this reaction communicates evil’s devious intent and its enticing false hope, intended to impede spiritual healing.
If you are already familiar with the placebo effect, (from the Latin: “I will please”), you may find it useful to know about its lesser known evil twin: the nocebo, meaning: “I will harm.” It would make one worse rather than better — based on mere expectation alone.
In her textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy gives a stunning example of the nocebo reaction: “A man was made to believe that he occupied a bed where a cholera patient had died. Immediately the symptoms of this disease appeared and the man died. The fact was, that he had not caught the cholera by material contact, because no cholera patient had been in that bed.” (p. 154:10).
The placebo effect is deception based on hopeful expectation, (usually in the form of an inert, fake or un-medicated sugar pill), whereas the nocebo — the placebo’s opposite — is a negative suggestion, which, directly or indirectly, audibly or inaudibly, consciously or unconsciously, implants into consciousness a powerful negative, fearful expectation – based on erroneous beliefs and anxiety…but mostly fear.
The nocebo reaction is nothing more than the communication of negative suggestions — arguing for acceptance on either a conscious or an unconscious level. Its antidote is the conscious awareness of God’s law, presence, and the power of Truth to destroy anything that is not true about His creation. Through prayer we nurture receptivity to God’s prompting in every situation, as the ever-presence of the healing Christ disarms and nullifies all non-God derived communication. It promotes and maintains our mental and physical well-being, success and happiness.
If the nocebo is the dark, shadow side of the placebo; (the negative suggestion of mortal mind in anticipation of a negative experience), then its seeming power is no more real, substantial or formidable than a shadow. But isn’t it reassuring to realize that the light of Truth eliminates darkness instantly, completely, without debate, struggle, processing or consideration of its history? Darkness isn’t something to be feared…it’s simply the absence of light which, with enlightenment, can be instantly dispelled.
We are constantly bombarded with false, subtle, purposeful, negative suggestions. Television commercials communicate these messages designed to implant images of sickness and fear into consciousness. These deceitful messages can be personal or impersonal, present or future, and are not necessarily dependent on our conscious awareness. “All mental malpractice arises from ignorance or malice aforethought,” states Mrs. Eddy. “It is the injurious action of one mortal mind controlling another from wrong motives, and it is practiced either with a mistaken or a wicked purpose.” (Science and Health, p. 451:26) and she also states: “evil is neither communicable nor scientific.” (Ibid, p. 72:25)
Unwarily — consciously or unconsciously, we are conditioned to accept into consciousness deceptive messages such as: our hair will turn gray, our eyesight will dim, our memory will fail, our bones will become brittle, and our hearing will diminish. “Stand porter at the door of thought, admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously. When the condition is present which you say induces disease, whether it be: air, exercise, heredity, contagion, or accident, then perform your office as porter and shut out these unhealthy thoughts and fears. Exclude from mortal mind the offending errors; then the body cannot suffer from them.” (Science and Health, p. 392:24-32).
Standing porter at the door of thought enables us to see how mortal mind’s “Catch 22” plays out in the market place. As the public demands truthfulness and transparency from the pharmaceutical industry, full disclosure as to adverse side effects and negative symptoms of medical compounds produces a type of “hypervigilance” reinforcing its deceiving message. By communicating possible side effects and disclosing necessary warnings, we see a surge of complications and reactions that a drug could possibly produce.
Shall we choose to think and communicate dark erroneous thoughts or the light of Life, Truth and Love. This active choice determines what we will see, feel and express. To which voice are you listening? — the barrage of subliminal, fake, deceptive messages of the media, or thoughts of the healing Christ which uplift and sustain us in peace and harmony?
Evil has no scientific foundation in truth, and is not inclined to denounce and heal itself. The task of exposing, unmasking and destroying evil can confidently be left to the power Truth. When we welcome God’s healing truth into thought, it purifies and heals, thereby bringing to light, God’s law of ever-present perfection.
When we are guided to make a decision or take action, here’s a good litmus test to determine if we are being guided by mortal mind or Divine Mind: Does this guidance lead toward more or less peace? God’s loving direction unhesitatingly leads us in the direction of peace. Being conscious of God’s ever presence, protects us from nocebo messages and their intended consequences. “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.” (Psalms 71:1)
“When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea. Allow nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought. Let neither fear nor doubt overshadow your clear sense and calm trust, that the recognition of life harmonious – as Life eternally is – can destroy any painful sense of, or belief in, that which Life is not. Let Christian Science, instead of corporeal sense, support your understanding of being, and this understanding will supplant error with Truth, replace mortality with immortality, and silence discord with harmony” (Science and Health, p. 495:14).
As we listen to God’s direction, rather than the cluttered thoughts of the world, our decisions and subsequent actions will be strong and loving, principled and wise, and will never be injurious — but will only bless. The thoughts we think with God, are always our strong defense; guarding us vigilantly from evil’s overt and subtle, conscious and unconscious messages. We can rest assured in the truth promised by the Psalmist in the 91st Psalm, “His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.”
The vigilant awareness of Truth unmasks, annuls, and destroys aggressive mental suggestions, enabling us to see, with absolute certainty, the unbroken activity of God’s laws of health, harmony and everlasting good to govern our lives harmoniously in confidence and with joyous expectation of good.
The antidote for any ungodlike communication is our conscious awareness of God’s inviolate laws — omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. They demand of us confident declarations of the power of Truth to destroy anything unlike Himself and His perfect idea, man. As we embrace our holiness, let’s endeavor to do think, say and act upon the thoughts we think with God. The possibilities are endless and always possible to achieve.
A footnote from Tom Taffel
After many years of prayerful and diligent research, (having been published many times in the Christian Science Journal and Sentinel) – I received a rejection from senior CS, J.S.H. chief editor. Because an earlier revision of my article entitled: “Placebo + Nocebo ≠ Healing,” – May 2, 2015 – (a transcription of one of my Emergence International talks) – was posted on Prayerful Living’s “Pearls of Inspiration,” my new revised article was ineligible for publication under the title “Evil is neither communicable nor scientific” in theChristian Science Journal, even though it had received initial approval and made it all the way to the “upstream” editors.
October 4, 2017 Dear Tom: I know that you have been working with one of our staff editors on the article, “Evil is neither communicable nor scientific.” I’m sorry to have to tell you that we are not going forward with publication. The same subject under a different title appeared on the website “Prayerful Living” in 2015. As a practice, we don’t republish metaphysical articles from other publications. We regret that this didn’t come to our attention earlier, but know you’ll understand our reasoning. Very sincerely,
In light of today’s political climate, in which “fake news” is prevalent, I consider this the most important, thought provoking, groundbreaking, and tangible article I’ve ever written. Very few in the medical profession are aware of the “Nocebo Effect,” as shocking as that may seem, and yet it is today’s “Aggressive Mental Suggestion.” This article is my gift to the Emergence International community. Blessings …. and Enjoy!