Friday, June 11, 2010

Is it all in your head?

Something that I have always found very interesting is the placebo effect. The placebo effect is a phenomenon in which an inert substance or procedure results in a person’s medical improvement due to perception and expectation. Simply put, if a person believes something is going to be helpful, it can heal. In the book this went along with my first blog post on trepanation, they stated that the reason trepanation could have worked for Peter Halvorson’s depression might have been the positive expectation that the treatment would work. The placebo effect points out how big of a role the brain plays in physical health.

Placebos are commonly used in medical research, one group is given the medication and another is given a placebo to act as a control. The control group is used to view the differences, to see if the medical improvement is mental or if it is being caused by the medication. Many people view this as a deception and do not approve of it, but I think that if your mind is able
to make you better, then shouldn’t you do that before using medication. I think the fact that your brain is able to trick yourself into feeling better is just amazing!

In a study done by Kaptchuk et al., they were testing the placebo effect; they had one group who was placed on a waiting list for a treatment, one who received the placebo treatment, and another group who received the placebo and an increased patient-practitioner relationship. The results showed that when given additional attention and reassurance from the doctor the response to a placebo increased from 44% to 62%. I think this shows us just how much are brain can alter our conditions. Just by hearing from a doctor that we are going to feel better the results can go up by twenty percent and just from a placebo drug almost fifty percent experienced improvement. This is all very interesting to me, I think that if people can think themselves into feeling better that is awesome and should used more than drugs! What do you think?



  1. Although this isn't any kind of medical improvement, it sure is interesting! The placebo effect is really cool because it makes the body react as if it really is getting the expectation. It's funny to think that our bodies' must be dumb enough that we can actually trick it!

  2. It shows how important the mind truly is and effects the rest of us. Placebo effects won't, however, help with any serious physical problems so it can do more harm than good in time being wasted.