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Your brain is lying… but to who?

People have a funny reaction to the placebo effect. It seems unfair, almost, that a medicine or treatment that “doesn’t really do anything” should work. Take the Respirate blood pressure trainer, pictured at left. All it does is help you become conscious of your breathing. It’s clinically proven to reduce blood pressure.

“You mean,” the skeptics say, “that all the device does is trick you into breathing differently?”

Actually, there’s more to it than that. It works because it helps you focus on your mechanics and takes your mind away from other things that are having the opposite impact on your blood pressure. It works because it allows you tell yourself a story about getting better, about living slower, about breathing.

The placebo effect works, and it’s proof that stories are at least as powerful as the real stuff.