Friday, February 22, 2013

Warts and the Power of Suggestion

Not long ago I wrote a post (which got over 10,000 views) in which the controversial hypothesis was raised that perhaps the reason so many smokers are getting so much lung cancer, today (far more cases than can any longer be explained by science) is that we're all being programmed by the cancer warnings on cigaret boxes that tell us we are going to get cancer. In other words, maybe the power of suggestion is aggravating the problem.
Human papilloma virus.

I admit it seems ridiculous that merely planting the suggestion of cancer in someone's mind can make a person get cancer. (Still, read the evidence in my previous post.) But we know that the power of suggestion can, in fact, help rid a body of tumors; at least, tumors of a specific kind. The kind called warts.

Warts are, of course, benign papillomas, caused by a virus. And the strange thing about them is, it's been known for many years that patients can make their own warts go away by power of suggestion. This has been verified so many times in the literature that it needs no further argument. Some of the papers are listed below.

Well-known physician-author Lewis Thomas once wrote an engaging essay on this topic. According to Thomas:

There have been several meticulous studies by good clinical investigators, with proper controls. In one of these, fourteen patients with seemingly intractable generalized warts on both sides of the body were hypnotized, and the suggestion was made that all the warts on one side of the body would begin to go away. Within several weeks the results were indisputably positive; in nine patients, all or nearly all of the warts on the suggested side had vanished, while the control side had just as many as ever. It is interesting that most of the warts vanished precisely as they were instructed, but it is even more fascinating that mistakes were made. Just as you might expect in other affairs requiring a clear understanding of which is right and which the left side, one of the subjects got mixed up and destroyed the warts on the wrong side.
Experiments of this sort have not been tried on malignant tumors, for obvious ethical reasons. (You can't very well leave a control group of cancer patients untreated when treatment options exist.) Nevertheless, it makes one wonder. How much do we really know about the mind's control over vascular and immunologic processes?  Maybe there's more to this power-of-suggestion stuff than we might imagine?


Ewin, D.M. Hypnotherapy for warts (verruca vulgaris): 41 consecutive cases with 33 cures, Am J Clin Hypn. 1992 Jul;35(1):1-10.

Sinclair-Gieben, A.H.C., Chalmers, D., Evaluation of Treatment of Warts by Hypnosis, Lancet 2: Oct 3 1959; 480-482. Cited and excerpted in

Smith, Arthur Preston, The Power of Thought to Heal: An Ontology of Personal Faith, Ph.D. Dissertation (1998) Claremont Graduate University, CA

Spanos, Nicholas R., Stenstrom, Robert J., Johnston, Joseph C.,  Hypnosis, Placebo, and Suggestion in the Treatment of Warts Psychosomatic Medicine 50:245-260 (1988)

Tenzel, J.H.,Taylor, R.L., An evaluation of hypnosis and suggestion as treatment for warts. Psychosomatics 1969 Jul-Aug;10(4):252-7.

Vollmer, Hermann, Treatment of Warts by Suggestion, Psychosomatic Medicine March 1, 1946 vol. 8 no. 2 138-142