Croire à mort

Le pouvoir du mental est-il si fort qu'il peut nous tuer ?

On entend souvent une histoire dans le milieu du développement personnel, permettant d'illustrer le pouvoir de l'esprit sur le corps.

Un homme, emprisonné dans une chambre frigorifique débranchée, s'imagine mourir de froid et finalement en meurt (histoire cité en anglais ci-dessous).

Bon, a priori, c'est une légende urbaine.12

Une partie de moi avait envie d'y croire.

Ne serait-ce que parce que c'est en totale décalage avec ma vision très cartésienne des choses… J'aime bien pousser les curseurs un peu loin pour me recalibrer et ne pas oublier qu'il y a de nombreuses choses que je ne sais pas que je ne sais pas. Élargir un peu la fenêtre d'Overton3 de mes croyances.

L'histoire telle que partagée initialement :

The expression “worried to death” has more truth to it than you might think.

There is a story about Nick Sitzman, a strong, young bull-of-a-man, who worked on a train crew. It seemed Nick had everything: a strong healthy body, ambition, a wife and two children, and many friends. However, Nick had one fault. He was a notorious worrier. He worried about everything and usually feared the worst.

One midsummer day, the train crew were informed that they could quit an hour early in honor of the foreman’s birthday. Accidentally, Nick was locked in a refrigerator boxcar, and the rest of the workmen left the site. Nice panicked.

He banged and shouted until his fists were bloody and his voice was hoarse. No one heard him. “If I can’t get out, I’ll freeze to death in here,” he thought. Wanting to let his wife and family know exactly what had happened to him, Nick found a knife and began to etch words on the wooden floor. He wrote, “It’s so cold, my body is getting numb. If I could just go to sleep. These may be my last words.”

The next morning the crew slid open the heavy doors of the boxcar and found Nick dead. An autopsy revealed that every physical sign of his body indicated he had frozen to death. And yet the refrigeration unit of the car was inoperative, and the temperature inside indicated fifty-five degrees. Nick had killed himself by the power of worry.

– Van Ekeren, 1988


  1. le mythe est démonté par quelqu'un sur Quora ↩︎

  2. idem sur un site de fact-checking ↩︎

  3. la fenêtre d'Overton représente le champ acceptable des sujets qui peuvent être discutés en public ↩︎