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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

“The Dark Side of the Placebo Effect: When Intense Belief Kills”

This post by Dr. Wendy Harpham provided a link to an interesting article in Atlantic related to a new book on intense beliefs perhaps leading to death. The book, by Shelley Adler, is Sleep Paralysis: Night-mares, Nocebos, and the Mind Body Connection.

Wendy is always brief, and explained the story as follows:

"The Dark Side of the Placebo Effect: When Intense Belief Kills is a fascinating piece about the work of Shelley Adler, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco. She explored why otherwise healthy young men (median age 33 years old) who were immigrants from southeast Asia were dying in their sleep without any obvious cause of death. Puzzled doctors called it Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome (SUNDS).

Adler "comes to a stunning conclusion: In a sense, the Hmong were killed by their belief in the spirit world, even if the mechanism of their deaths was likely an obscure genetic cardiac arrhythmia that is prevalent in southeast Asia."

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