(Not so) Great Expectations

Have you ever had the experience of something so profound but you didn’t actually realise it at the time? It’s only in looking back, that you notice it, isn’t it. A moment in time that seems to chart the course of your life.

It was first year psychology for me. UNSW. And an experiment that has stayed with me these last 20 years. Because it blew my mind. They got it on film they told us. Five people in a line. Four were in on the experiment and the last was the unsuspecting subject. A coin was dropped into each person’s hand, one at a time. And they all exclaimed how hot it was. Burning deeply. Most unpleasant. Juggling the coin in the air from hand to hand to cope with the heat. And as they moved along the line, the effects grew stronger and stronger. Until they reached number five. The subject. And as the coin dropped into his hand, they caught on film the welts that appeared on the palm of his hand – before the coin even touched it. And the coin was in actual fact, cold. So convinced was he of what was about to happen, he made it happen all by himself. It was all in his mind.

Profound. And powerful. What we can do, inside, isn’t it.

It often makes me wonder just how many side-effects are brought on by our subconscious expectation of what is about to happen. What we have been conditioned to expect. Fearing cancer all our lives. Fearing chemo as one of the very worst things life can dish up. And I often wonder how many side-effects can be avoided, if only we give ourselves the chance to change our minds…

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