December 27, 2019

Here’s a Powerful Technique a Duke University Professor Used To Successfully Get Rid of His Liver Disease + How You Can Practice it Too

Dan Ariely Reward Substitution

After one and a half years being on medication, he was finally told he was free of the liver disease and he was pleasantly surprised when he was told that he was the ONLY person in the FDA protocol who always took the medication on time.

When he was a student at Duke university, Professor Dan Ariely was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and he was given a choice to join a FDA clinical trial in which they were trying to find out if Interferon - a medication that was used for treating hairy cell leukemia would also be effective for treating Hepatitis C.

If he didn't join the trial, he faced the danger of dying of liver cirrhosis, so his only option was to take the medication - 3 injections every week for one and a half years. But the injections weren't pleasant and had nasty side effects- headache, vomiting, shaking etc. that would last up to 16 hours.

So the challenge before Dr. Ariely was to indulge in something that was unpleasant and immediate (weekly injections) for a benefit in the distant future (free from the liver disease)

So how was Dr. Ariely able to successfully take his medications?

He implemented a clever strategy that he calls "reward substitution" and here's how it worked.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays which were Dr. Ariely's injection days, he would head to the video store and rent out movies. He would spend the day eagerly anticipating watching the movies and later when he came back home, he would inject himself and play the movie right away before the nasty side-effects started kicking in.

Doing this allowed Dr. Ariely to tolerate the bad (the injections) with something good (pleasure from watching movies).

Reward substitution is a fantastic technique that can be used in many ways

  • Hate exercising like me? Why not watch your favorite movies or TV shows when you are on the treadmill or elliptical?
  • How about listening to your favorite playlist when you are doing dishes and cleaning?
  • Have a long commute to work? How about devouring your favorite podcasts on your way to work?

Enjoy this Ted Talk by Dr. Dan Ariely. 

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