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This document is a presentation of the book
"You are the placebo", written by Dr. Joe Dispenza
and published on April 29, 2014 in English by Hay House Editions.
The experiences, studies and testimonials
reported in the book in abundance,
as well as the proposed meditation technique,
are not included in this presentation

Dr. Joe Dispenza's book "You are the placebo" raise the bar one step higher than its predecessors. Dr. Joe Dispenza addresses topics such as visualization, meditation, the law of attraction, applications of quantum physics in personal evolution; and he does it through the lens of neuroscience. He tells us about the plasticity of the brain, our ability to create or remove neuronal connections, our ability to activate or deactivate our genes, and the important interaction between our cells, our body and our thoughts and emotions, and - the most important aspect: the interest in better managing these thoughts and emotions, in order to transform both our mind and our health. His book is full of examples, studies, experiences that illustrate his theories. In this book he brings the idea that we can reach health through our will and the ability to direct our thoughts and emotions by changing our beliefs, and use that as we use a placebo.

We often pay no heed to the fact that our body has its own healing abilities. Yet this is a fact, we can, for example, observe it when an injury stops bleeding on its own, then proceeding to a whole healing process that usually leaves little mark and does most of the time not require much external intervention. And that applies for most diseases. What the saying sums up well when we say that a flu takes 2 weeks to heal while without care it takes 15 days to recover.
Our body is capable of producing on its own a whole pharmacopoeia. But most often our state of mind, our conditioning, our negative thoughts, our erroneous beliefs, prevent these capacities to be stimulated in the sense of the full health.

Everything starts from the idea that our life is led by our automatisms of thinking acquired in the past and written in the body. By always carrying on the same thoughts, we always make the same choices that lead to the same behaviors, which will make us go through the same experiences, which in turn will make us feel the same emotions, which will simply raise the same thoughts, and lead us to always live the same thing in a loop, and make us stay biologically the same.
Thus, whatever our desires for the future, we are able to conceive of their realization only according to the models of our past. And that often makes them fail.

We can experience that every day. Because we live, feel, evaluate our daily life in a similar way from one day to another. We experience it by our addictions. We verify it by always confirming our beliefs, to the point of being incredulous when our entourage does not verify the same beliefs as us.
Our experiences are alike, our choices are alike, our past, present and future experience is very similar to itself.

Our automatisms are all the more indelible because our mind and our biology are interdependent. According to Joe Dispenza, thoughts are the language of the mind (the mental) and emotions are the language of the body. A simple thought (consequence of past events) can generate an emotion, via the production of peptides transmitted in the body. This produces an emotion which, in return, is perceived, consciously or not, at the level of the mind, which will be led to emit a thought that is the consequence of it, which will in turn generate the emotion. This is how we always reproduce the same thoughts and emotions. We have preferential neurological circuits that we tend to wire very regularly. By always being immersed in the same kind of emotions and thoughts, we always remain in the same states of mind.
In this way, our mind is no longer really in control, it is our body which conditions most of the time our thoughts, according to past events which have imprinted their mode of operation that we continue to repeat. And all this is written in most cells of our body that are regularly engaged in this thoughts-emotions circuit.

By dint of reinforcing the same neuronal connections, we limit the functioning of our brain to the point of not being able to leave these mechanisms. In a way it's our identity. The less we exercise the plasticity of our brain, the more we move towards a form of narrow-mindedness. Both literally and figuratively.
It is therefore necessary to learn to be able to get out of these limits. Otherwise, some functions will deteriorate, mental faculties will stiffen and eventually decrease, and our health will weaken. This loss of vitality and flexibility will lead to disease and aging. To give an idea of the phenomenon, here are some figures quoted in the book:

According to the University of California at LA, "we have about 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day, of which 90% are exactly the same as the day before."

In addition, unconscious thoughts account for about 95% of our mind.

Regarding the functioning of the brain. We have billions of neurons that can each have up to more than 100,000 connections. This is astounding. Our potential is immense.

According to Joe Dispenza, the implementation of our programs is already set up at 95% around the age of 35 years. 5% of our thoughts remain then conscious. And if our will then wants to think positive, almost nothing can be done against unconscious negative operating automatisms written in the body for 35 years, and they will always have the upper hand.

The only way out of the rut is to become conscious of our thoughts and change them, in other words, to evolve and change our personality, to transform our brain and our biology, our physiology and our genes. A whole program that Joe Dispenza don't hesitate to propose to us.

If we succeed in reversing this tendency by taking back the control, on a conscious level, by intentionally creating thoughts and emotions, by succeeding to interfere with the subconscious part of our mind, then we hold the key to healing.
To achieve this, it is necessary to put ourselves in a state of meditation, by lowering the frequency of our brain waves.

Any change of behavior, of thought, therefore requires repetition to be reinforced and maintained over time. Beyond chemistry, new connections are physiologically written in the structure of our brain. We can therefore say that our mind is capable of transforming matter.

Joe Dispenza explains the neurochemical and biological aspects in more detail and in a very understandable way in his book, without requiring the reader to be an expert in these areas.


Joe Dispenza's challenge is to succeed to create new connections, transform our brain, and make the placebo effect work. It requires, through choice, with a determined will and intention, to develop our ability to visualize our goals in the most real possible way, accompanying them with emotion, the most intense possible, and to train for that. It is hence the intention, the emotion and the thought which, combined, form the experience. So, through visualization, this consists, already in the present, of doing the experience of the future, and to write the impact of this experience in our cells.
The success of the technique is only possible if we manage to make the visualization more real at the level of the feeling than our current reality at the level of the lived experience.

Our brain will not make the difference between what is imagined and reality. When the inner reality visualized will be lived more intensely than the outside experience of the past, some neurological circuits will be deactivated while others will be wired, and at the same time, the activation of certain genes will be modified. However, by repeatedly stimulating certain neuronal connections we can double their number, and conversely, when we no longer use them, they begin to disappear in the space of three weeks. These changes in neurological configuration will lead, over time, to a physical transformation of our brain.
By projecting ourselves in imagination into the future by thought but also by emotion, our brain is placed in a new environment situation and it is this that will operate the activation or deactivation of genes, resulting in the biological transformations which are necessary to recover health.

For, contrary to what was previously believed, our genetic heritage is not set in stone. Basically it is the environment that stimulates or not the activation of a gene, but our ability to visualize allows this too. Indeed, the expression of a gene can fluctuate over time and is dependent of our thoughts, emotions, interactions with our environment (relationships, experiences, food, pollution, etc.).

Therefore, the meaning we give to what we live determines the functioning of all our biology.

We could compare the body to a computer. The hardware, the operating system, and a series of preloaded programs would be, symbolically, what is determined at birth. These softwares would make it possible to exploit the machine (the body) according to millions of different versions; but it would also be possible to develop the softwares, to add new ones, to modify some of them, to delete others, etc. and this all life-long.

Therefore, by changing our thoughts and feelings, we change our neural configuration, our personality, our choices, our habits and this impacts our biology, the activation or not of certain genes; we literally create our state of health.
When really living new experiences, when learning new things, we strengthen the transformation of our brain and expand our cerebral possibilities.

The placebo effect

Placebo is a 100% inactive pseudo-medication that is administered to a patient, claiming that it's active, and it's likely to generate an improvement in the patient's condition.

The placebo effect is observed when the patient's health improves significantly when a medication has been substituted by a placebo.
The effect of the placebo is related at the same time to the fact that the patient has faith in the treatment given to him, to the knowledge he has about the possible benefits of this treatment, to his past experiences in relation to this treatment, as well as to the expectations he has about this treatment. The way in which the caregivers intervene has then a great influence on the placebo effect.
The two major elements that can slow down the placebo effect are, on the one hand, the negative thoughts, and on the other, the stress. And they are related. In reality these two factors are simply brakes on good health.

However, it turns out that an average of 70% of our thoughts would be negative ones.

Stress, on the other hand, is at the base, a biological functioning that makes it possible to survive in situations of danger and urgency. But when activated continuously, it is a source of maladjustment and is one of the main causes of the deterioration of health. Dispenza illustrates the life under permanent stress, in survival mode, just like the management of a country that would invest 98% of its budget in defense and would keep 2% for education, health, infrastructure, etc.
In situation of stress, the self-healing functions are stopped, and in the long run the immune system weakens.
All the negative movies that we are making are small hammer hits on the nail of the disease that we sink ourselves into our body, because they put the body in situation, and it is always a situation of stress. And this trend is addictive. Once installed, it is extremely difficult to get rid of it.

And when we always dwell on the same thoughts about problems, or when we continually foresee the possibility of future problems, we maintain and support this stressful situation just by our thinking, and we are preparing to lower our level of health, because ultimately we activate genes that allow disease.
Living in the stress mode, that is to say, in a continuous mode of survival, concentrates the thoughts on the body, on the material things and on time, and this cuts for us the access to intuition, to serenity, to creativity, to the opening of the heart, of the feeling of being linked to the whole, and thus to live something else.

One of the most important stresses within the context of health, is that related to the diagnosis. Indeed, the value of medical diagnoses, and the discourse that accompanies them, can be of vital importance in the healing process. Dispenza reports a series of cases of people who had been informed of an impossibility to cure their illness and who died, while the autopsy later revealed that the diagnosis that had been told to them was wrong.

The reverse situation is also valid: it is possible to heal from diseases just by changing our beliefs about our health.
It is therefore necessary to disregard the medical diagnosis conclusions when the prognosis is quite negative, because this is precisely making a nocebo effect (the nocebo effect being the opposite effect to that of the placebo).

In this context, the idea of placebo consists in believing in our capacity to heal: and thus in creating the conditions for intentionally learning to believe it; rather than believing in factors outside of us: medication, medical diagnoses, treatments of all kinds, and even external placebo.
It is thus a question of encouraging our own suggestibility to the thoughts and emotions that we ourselves will decide to invest. This means, in some way, to decide to believe in our healing, rather than to persist in maintaining automatic thoughts related to the symptoms or ill-being that have accompanied us for a long time.

Joe Dispenza proposes, through meditation and visualization, to achieve this; meditation having the power exactly opposite to stress and to negative thoughts. And this is the method proposed by Joe Dispenza to make visualization effective.

Changing beliefs through emotion via suggestibility

By becoming attentive to our thoughts, and by passing them again in the frame of consciousness, we make possible the change of our beliefs. Because these are not always true, or if they have been, they are not necessarily still true, because our context has changed.
However, in order to imprint new beliefs through visualization, it is necessary to accompany them with stronger emotions than those that have imprinted our old beliefs. Joe Dispenza illustrates this aspect by the effect of a strong wave on the beach, which will push back seashells and other marine debris, and erase and replace all the marks printed in the sand by previous waves. The same is true for modifying the imprints in our brain and body, and liberating us from the past.

Emotion is therefore the best way to access our subconscious that he compares to the operating system of the computer.

When we feel an habitual emotion, it will be accompanied by thoughts, habitual too. These thoughts, we accept them, believe them, and adopt them as true. We are therefore very suggestible to what we already know. To become suggestible to a new type of thinking, it is then necessary to feel new emotions that will correspond to it. It is in this way that we can achieve change.

According to Dispenza, suggestibility is correlated with the ability to access unconscious thoughts

To favor our suggestibility, we can give ourselves the means to believe in this visualization so that it can work. And the very fact of giving the explanation of the efficiency of the process, with certain details at the level of cellular biology, is already likely to greatly favor this suggestibility.

Suggestibility is, in a way, the facilitation of installing a belief; not to be confused with credulity or naivety. The idea consists in making ourselves suggestible to the content of new beliefs we choose to adopt.

Joe Dispenza says this: In order to achieve the placebo effect, we must first "accept and then believe in the suggestion of a better health, and then let go in front of what is happening without further analysis." It is therefore necessary "to align ourselves with a possible future reality - by changing our mind and brain during the process. When we believe in the result, when we emotionally integrate the idea of a better health, as a result, the body, as unconscious mind, is living this future reality in the present moment. "
It is therefore necessary to install confidence in what will happen, and maintain this state of mind over time. Apart from the intentional initiation of the process, the transformation then takes place outside the field of consciousness.

The level of suggestibility differs from one individual to another. The placebo effect is easier to reach for people with greater suggestibility, but the interest from what Joe Dispenza is proposing lies in the fact that it is possible to intentionally increase our suggestibility.
Suggestibility involves three elements: acceptance, belief, and then letting go. And the ability to live the process by integrating the emotion is the mean to get there. Because it is the way to access the autonomic nervous system that will create the chemical conditions of change.
And gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions in order to reach suggestibility. By being grateful in the present moment for future events, the body understands it as if the event had already happened, and aligns itself with it.

Conversely, suggestibility is inversely proportional to analytic abilities.
But stress drives us to use our analytical abilities by trying to imagine all possible eventualities of the development of a situation - and most often the worst ones - in order to be ready to deal with it. And that keeps us under stress.
When we use our analytical abilities to ruminate, we simply damage our health. It is not a question of incriminating these abilities, but of learning to use them only when they are appropriate, and certainly not when they are accompanied or stimulated by negative emotions and by stress.
Our analytical abilities will push us to develop our ego, to over-evaluate the dangers, to suffer, to seek to always have the control. They will stimulate stress, prevent letting go, and get us trapped into negative thoughts.
The placebo effect works only when we totally leave this state of mind and let the unconscious take over.

To leave our too analytical mind, and to put ourselves in a state of suggestibility, it is possible to pass by the change of frequency of the brain waves from Beta to Alpha, until Theta, which allows us to let go and this can be reached, among others, via meditation or hypnosis. The more we slow down brain waves, the more we become suggestible.
If, when we are in survival mode, it is the outside world that seems to us the most real; conversely, when we invest our inner world through meditation, it is the latter that we will learn to conceive as the most real. This is where we make it possible to make changes in our functioning mode. We are more creative and more suggestible.
The outside world is not going to change, but it is our perception of this world that will be modified and this allows us to change the way we react to it, and then to observe changes happening.

However, once the change is achieved, or is in the process of being, there is a risk of regression related to our environment. Indeed, the addictive aspect of our beliefs can have the effect that if we find ourselves in the material or affective conditions that prevailed before the change, the old automatisms could reappear and resume their activities. There is therefore a need to work on the repetition of new beliefs in order to print them more deeply and thus reinforce them and reduce the risk of going backwards.

In addition, leaving the narrowness of our brain functions is uncomfortable because we are embarking on the unknown. It takes time, and our mind is going to want to resist doing that. Dispenza compares it to the moment when we put our foot in cold water before bathing. This makes us want to return to the comfort of the dry heat, to the comfort of our automatic and unconscious mental functioning. He speaks of "crossing the river of change".

Quantum level

If we look at all this from the angle of the system of understanding the world influenced by quantum physics, then we realize that by transforming our inner state, we are transforming our external reality.

First of all, the field in which all the elements of the universe are immersed, from the largest to the smallest is filled with energy and information. The size of the atom particles is infinitesimal in proportion to the size of the field that separates them.

Then, quantum physics has shown that in experience the observer himself determines the result of what is observed. In this sense, the way in which the events of reality will manifest is not determined but just potential. It is the attention, the observation, the interpretation attributed to it that will determine the manner in which these events manifest. We can understand at a quantum level how our mind (according to our beliefs, automatisms, conditioning, neural highways, biological state), can determine the way in which reality will manifest itself.

The perpetual repetition of our habits leads us, from looping interactions with external reality, to shape our inner world, and thereby to print the glasses with which we look at the outside world. Our mental habits will freeze our look, preventing from shifting the point of view, making it impossible, both to change our inner world, and to conceive differently the external reality; and this maintains it as it is.

Conversely, when we become able to imagine in visualization a possible future reality and accompany it with the emotions associated with it, we are already creating this reality. And the repetition of the exercise increases the chances of this realization.
If our attention shifts from our past thoughts to new thoughts, if it moves from what we do not want, to what we desire, if it stays away from the problems we encounter, and turns towards solutions that we wish, we become capable of modifying our reality in the sense of our desires.

The energy frequency of a healthy body is higher than that of a sick body. The more we are in an attitude of survival, the lower are our energies. And conversely, the more we are in consciousness, in positive thinking, the more we develop our creativity, our compassion, our intuition; and higher will be our energies, and the better will be our health.

The more we raise the energy, the less we are in matter and the more the material coherence reveals itself. The more we get linked with the energy field, the more we influence matter to organize and the less we are subject to the law of entropy which corresponds to low energy functionings. (note: the law of entropy concerns the natural tendency of everything to disorganize).
Matter is created from a decrease in energy. When we raise our consciousness and our energy, we make ourselves capable of transcending matter and can therefore, by thought, influence matter.

According to Joe Dispenza: "Since the quantum field is an invisible field of information, since it is the frequency beyond space and time from which all material things come, and is made of consciousness and energy; then, everything that is physical in the universe, is unified within this field and connected to it. And since all material things are composed of atoms, which are connected beyond time and space, then you and I, like everything that make up the universe, are connected by this field of intelligence - personal and universal, both inside us and all around us - giving life, information, energy and consciousness of everything."
Meditation enables to better connect to the field, to become conscious of its reality, its presence, and therefore opens all the possibles.

Written by Claire De Brabander
September 2014
translated : November 2018

This text has been written originally in French and has been translated by the author (who is French speaking). The translation quality is therefore not guaranteed. Don't hesitate to report any error. See more details here.

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