The Power of Suggestion

I noticed this yesterday:

Tara Palmer-Tomkinson found dead in her flat 

Comes as a friend appeared on This Morning to claim she had relapsed ‘back into a dark place’

Socialite and model told last year that she had been battling a brain tumour following bombshell diagnosis

Workmen in her building said they had not seen her since hearing ‘very loud bang’ from her flat last Friday

I assumed that the “very loud bang” had been a gunshot, and that Tara Palmer-Tomkinson had committed suicide. Of course, that may not have been what happened at all. But it set me wondering how many people lapse into despair, or commit suicide, shortly after being handed this sort of diagnosis by their doctor. And also to what extent doctors drive people to despair and suicide with diagnoses like these.

What happens if, during some routine examination, your doctor tells you have cancer or some other dreadful malady – even though you haven’t noticed any symptoms yourself? What if they tell you that you can only expect to live another 6 months, at most? Wouldn’t that be a tremendous blow to somebody who had been, up until that point, living a perfectly happy life? Might they easily lapse into despair, and take to the bottle, and spiral downwards out of control? Something they wouldn’t have done if they hadn’t been presented with this devastating diagnosis.

I suspect that, if it were me, given my collapsing esteem for doctors and experts in general, I probably wouldn’t believe what I was told. After all, I believe less and less of anything I’m told about anything.

But it would seem that TP-T was one of the believing kind. She believed what her doctor had told her (and, who knows, she may have been right to do so).

But I’m seriously concerned about a circumstance where you no longer go to visit a doctor when you judge yourself unwell, but instead doctors now tell patients when they deem them to be unwell. And furthermore they very often name the cause (smoking). I’m concerned because I think that it should be I – and not some doctor – who decides that I am unwell.

I’ve told this story before, but it’s worth re-telling. A retired tea-planter from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) recounted one day how one of the workmen on his plantation had committed some infraction, and had climbed up a tree to hide. The tea-planter tried to induce him to climb down, but the man refused. After a while, the tea-planter gave up trying, and called up to the man: “It doesn’t really matter whether you come down or not, because you’re going to die in three days anyway.” A day or two later, the fugitive climbed down from the tree, went back to his home – and died there the next day. “Such is the power of suggestion,” the retired tea-planter observed, after recounting the story.

With some slight caveats, I deem myself to be perfectly well at present, and I haven’t been to see a doctor for over 10 years. But I suspect that if I ever fall into the clutches of the medical profession, they will diagnose me with about 30 or 40 different diseases, and give me about three days to live.

About Frank Davis

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22 Responses to The Power of Suggestion

  1. O/T but for anyone wanting news of Anna Raccoon, I saw her on Tuesday and wrote it up, with her blessing, as a guest post on Granddad’s site:

    • Yvonne says:

      Thank you for the update. I hope Anna knows how many patrons wish her well and miss her. I mourn bloggers who no longer blog for whatever reason but perfectly understand their reason, whatever that may be, for not carrying on. In Anna’s case the reason is more profound than most.

      • I hope Anna knows how many patrons wish her well and miss her.
        Rest assured she does. As I said in the piece she spoke of a ‘deep sense of bereavement’ about having had to close the blog and the reason why she gave me permission to write the article was that she knew a lot of people are worried about her.

        • Frank Davis says:

          I was an occasional reader of Anna Raccoon. But I was never quite sure who or what she was. I somehow had the vague idea that she was a well-known newspaper reporter.

          Perhaps the piece by her that had the greatest influence on me was the one in which she debunked the story that Jimmy Savile had been preying on girls in an orphanage or similar home. She had been able to do this because she had been one of the girls in the home at the time, and had never once set eyes on Jimmy Savile. One consequence of this is that I’ve never believed anything that’s been written about Jimmy Savile, even though he was thoroughly demonised soon after his death. If he was such an evil man, why did they have to wait until he died to spill the beans? Because none of it would have stood up in court?

          I wish Anna well, of course, in this trying time.

        • She was a former Lord Chancellor’s Visitor for Ivor The Engine Land (North Wales) and worked for many years for the Court Of Protection so has real insight in abuse cases. Even sitting asa late teen in some London Lyons or the other she seems to have attracted people who valued her friendship, her advice and her ability to keep a confidence. Bloody sure she had something with Perfumo and maybe JFK, She knew pretty much anyone of note of the time -at least it seems that way to me. I jokingly once suggested she knew The Twins, to which she replied ‘not directly but I knew their Mum , Violet, and still have a scarf she gave me for Xmas’. It’s rare to find someone like her, who genuinely has friends in high places but never name drops. To my certain knowledge-because I have been in the room at the time- she gets calls from Household names- I mean people you see on the news. “Sorry John , I have The Blocked Dwarf here. Can i ring you back?” and I’m left wondering if it was John Major, John Noakes or John the plumber down the road (just a hypothetical example).
          In her time she also ran a B&B and a restaurant and a garage and …
          At an age when most of us can’t remember our PIN number without coded messages on the back of a fag packet, she went to Uni and scored a double first in Law and something else I think.
          /endeth the eulogy.

  2. Rose says:

    how many people lapse into despair, or commit suicide, shortly after being handed this sort of diagnosis by their doctor

    When I was young, one day the Mass Chest X-Ray van turned up at my work.
    We all queued up in a line to be x-rayed, chatting away with not a care in the world. In front of me was one of the directors, a nice man, always cheerful, we went through and I thought no more about it. But I didn’t see that director again, it seems they’d found something and if memory serves he was dead within a month.

    I think that there’s a lot to be said for the old saying – Never trouble trouble until trouble troubles you.

  3. At this time last year I started taking “Astaxanthine” after a fellow commentator over on AR’s blog recommended it and i googled up a lot of positive reviews which had some hard science behind them.
    Took about 4 weeks to kick in but then it was like being 18 again, like being on fucking crack. I could get off the floor after playing with the Granddaughters without help, my knees no longer sounded like Belfast on a Saturday night, i could carry the shopping the half mile home without swapping hands, I drove to southern Belgium without painkillers and without NSAI gel. I discovered what 8 hours soild sleep felt like again and to wake refreshed and be able to go for a shower BEFORE having had half a packet of smokes and a pot of coffee. My skin lost 30 years of aging. I became evangelical about the stuff, recommending it to all…at length. I even seriously considered going into selling the stuff -i was that much of a Believer.
    Then on holiday in Germany I came down with the Summer Cold From Hell, and after that the Astax stopped working and hasn’t since. So i’m pretty certain that all the good stuff was due to the ‘placebo’ effect.
    So can i believe that news of terminal illness can kill? Yep, logically it must be able to. If thinking a medication can cure makes it cure then the opposite must be true.
    That said, when i was misdiagnosed with Lung Cancer it didn’t make me ill…probably because i simply didn’t believe it…knowing thanks to Doll et al that smokers who inhale are less likely to contract LC and I inhale so much, so deeply, that no metatarsi could survive.

  4. waltc says:

    Erm, no. What you don’t know can hurt you, and the longer you don’t know it, the more it can hurt. At its birth and thru most of its childhood, cancer is symptomless. By the time you’ve got enough symptoms to check it out, you’re either walking dead or in for the kind of treatment that could make you wish you were. Dead. At the least, if it’s local and hasn’t metastasized, you’re in for losing chunks of yourself. OTOH, If it’s discovered early as a single embryo, often thru a fluke or one of those preventive screenings, you can zap it thru non-invasive radio-surgery. IOW, an early diagnosis, is not a death warrant, but a call to research and action.

    @BD: I’m curious. Did you just disbelieve it and do nothing, or did a later test show it was a false positive?

    • Frank Davis says:

      You have much greater faith in the medical profession than I do. Their war on smoking and alcohol and salt and sugar and fast food has destroyed my faith in them. I don’t think they know anything much about cancer, and all their treatments of it seem as medieval as cupping and bleeding. There was a golden age of medicine, 100 years ago, when they had real scientists in their ranks. Those days have long gone. I am expecting a plague to break out soon. They won’t have a clue what to do about it.

      • waltc says:

        I agree that they don’t (yet?) understand it, and that chemo–as likely to kill you as to save you– is a nastier version of cupping and bleeding (which some people do manage to survive) and I also agree there are false positives, as BD describes. But if a CT scan shows a suspicious blob, and a followup PET shows the blob is alive, and a biopsy shows it’s cancer, it’s cancer. Caught early you can zap it in 4 10-minute sessions of targeted radiation that hits the tumor and very little else and live as happily and as much of a Forever After as was originally your lot. Better to know early and decide what you want to do; the later you know, the more limited and much more dreadful your choices, and the death from it is ugly.

        • Vlad says:

          I recommend the book Less Medicine, More Health by Dr. H. Gilbert Welch. It’s not as simple as it appears with all the scanning, screening and testing. There are many victims of those procedures that no one talks or even knows about. Media and officials present only one side of the story.

    • @ waltc, later tests showed that it was…well they don’t know and never found it. Seems some people just cough up large amounts of blood and have an ‘ill defined density’ in their lung which disappears after a bit.
      —————————-from my blog at the time—————————

      “An ill defined density”
      08:20ish this morning, aptly while I was smoking my first ciggy of the day, my Doc phoned to tell me that I possibly have lung cancer or as the radiologist prelim report from yesterday’s chest x-ray put it “an ill defined density”- which to me sounds like an inept poltergeist.

      Doc will book me in to see the specialist clinic next week-Easter and fuel shortages not withstanding.

  5. Clicky says:

  6. Smoking Lamp says:

    Well, the power of suggestion (or at least its misdirection) underscores the tobacco control movement’s persecution of smokers. By creating a perception of exaggerated risk to trigger an extreme application of the precautionary principle the persecution of smokers has been legitimized.

    Now in Japan there is a little push-back to attempts to implement a comprehensive smoking ban. Check out “Smoking ban in public facilities would infringe on constitutional rights: LDP lawmakers” at the Japan Times:

    Of course the typical astroturf antismokers are attacking smokers and justifying the v=ban and persecution if smokers but the fact that there is push back is a good sign.

  7. narbanor says:

    if I ever fall into the clutches of the medical profession

    Well, as a last resort, they’ll probably declare (paraphrasing A Day at the Races): “Either this man was dead well before we examined him, or the laws of TC have ceased to apply”.

  8. Zaphod says:

    The nocebo effect.
    It has to be much more powerful than placebo- it’s easier to damage something than to break it.

    The sustained onslaught of voodoo curses from TC must have cost many lives among the gullible smokers who didn’t give up, and even some who did.
    There must also be quite a few who have died from “passive smoking”, as a result of believing.

    Anti-smoking kills.

    • Rose says:

      I am sure that you are right, Zaphod

      They put their curse right into your hand and have developed a series of pictorial suggestions as to how you should wither away and die.
      Very clever stuff and all hidden in plain sight with the blessing of government.

    • Rose says:

      Come to think of it, they’ve tried everything else, I wonder which branch of the occult social engineering comes under?

    • Don’t you just bet that that photo was originally captioned with- it’s a law in Fleet steet i think-thus: “Naughty! IT Girl has a crafty smoke” or something equally insidious and puerile.

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