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Current Discussion of The Placebo Effect in Science and the Media

The New York Times published another article about the placebo effect and those scientists involved in further study. They were careful not to use the "Magic" word in the title, but instead chose "Mysterious." I believe times are changing and everyone is taking a closer look at potential for cure using this phenomena. 

Seeking to Illuminate the Mysterious Placebo Effect

New York Times explores Placebo Effect from investigation of Dr. Wager, professor of psychology at the University of Colorado. Using neuroscience and brain imaging, Dr Wager shows real and tangible effects of placebo pills. He does not just call it "magic."

"In various surveys, 45 percent to 85 percent of American and European practitioners say they have used placebos in clinical practice, and 96 percent of academic physicians in the United States say they think placebos have therapeutic effects."

Historically, this report recognizes Dr. Fabrizio Benedetti, an Italian neuroscientist, as an original explorer in this field of study and that 'Placebo" may be expressed in many ways. 

Besides easing pain, placebo can be a conditioned effect, or as a result of authority. 

This article brings to light the fact that when information can not be explained, appears mysterious, and is like a circular peg going into a square hole, this information is dismissed. 

Even though drug trials begin by giving everyone a placebo to level the playing field, there is no explanation or investigation as to why a percentage of people get well at that point. 

Instead of using this information and pursung the usefulness of these responses and these sensitive people, the drug companies removed this group from the drug trials and effectively sway the data. 

Too bad no one is asking the homeopath about placebo. It has been commonly used since the time of Hahnemann.

FREAKONOMIC: Back in August 28, 2009 this "The Strangely Powerful Placebo" opinion piece was written with a hilarious conclusion to results of drug companies spending billions of dollars on marketing their products. The result shows that even though the pills themselves don't clinically work, it is the marketing of products that convince the public they work so well that they actually do work via the Placebo Effect, rather than the efficacy of the drugs.

FREAKONOMICS: in another report on March 6, 2008 Justin Wolfers shows us that the more positive results of the placebo effect when the person is given a more expensive 'dummy' pill. 

New York Times: Enhancing the Placebo Effect: by Olivia Judson published May 4, 2010 
The placebo effect is, potentially, one of the most powerful forces in medicine. The challenge is to harness that power in a reliable and systematic way. 

Many trials experimenting with placebo show a wide variety of effects from country to country and with different types of pills, different organ systems, diseases, pains or symptoms. 

Can you believe that even using a powerful opiate drug like morphine will have a different effect when a doctor comes in and tell the patient there will be an injection or whether it is given via hidden intravenously? There are no ways to explain these phenomena except the emotional component, mind/body connections, rituals and the powerful effects of relationships of patient and care-giver. 

In this article surprisingly the author says it is the DOCTOR'S belief in the treatment, rather than the PATIENT'S belief in the treatment that makes the largest impact in the result. 


HWC Part 1 | The Placebo Effect | Does This Explain Homeopathy?

HWC Part 2 What About The Homeopathic Interview? Case Taking Techniques 


PDF ~ Great Expectations: The Evolutionary Psychology of Faith-Healing and the Placebo Effect



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