Friday, July 6, 2012

Our Perception of Placebos

Maria Capelli
Post 2
    I've never tried using a placebo, or if I have I guess I wouldn't know. Obviously a placebo has no perceiveable physical effects. If I take a placebo pill, nothing in my body will change as a result of taking that pill. However, if I believe that the pill actually does have a affect then I might notice some physiological changes. The changes aren't from the pill, but they are from what my mind thinks the pill is capable of doing. The brain is a very powerful to be able make physiological changes by just expecting it. So why do we need to create an illusion with a pill? Some people after being told they are taking a placebo still regularly take it because they think it's really helping them. Why do still believe placebos help even after they are proven useless?
      Placebos can come in other forms besides pills. Therapy and surgery are other sources of placebos. Another source could be buttons or triggers that don't do anything, but we expect that by activating them they will give us what we want. An example is a button at a crosswalk. If you want to get across the street all you have to do is press the button and the light will change so you can cross. Most of the time, these buttons are not connected to anything, especially the traffic light. After one push, the light doesn't change yet people still repeatedly press it. Once the light turns a person will believe that the light changed because they were pushing the button. If I told you that the 'close door' button on elevators don't really work, would you still be inclined to press it to make your trip faster? I do it every time I get in an elevator. Sometimes the door closes as soon as I press the button, but did it really close because of my action?
The following short video presents how placebos affect us very well. The most interesting part is the stregnth the placebo effect has on us depending on the source it is taken from.
Did you know that you're more likely to think a placebo works if you take two pills instead of one? 
Did you also know that you can actually have withdrawl symptoms cause by taking a placebo?


  1. I had never heard of placebo surgery's. I find that unethical. Why put someone though unnecessary pointless surgery if it is not actually treating the problem.

    I also found it interesting that the larger the pill the more the symptoms seem to be relieved. Also that color has to do with how it effects the mood of the person taking the medicine.

  2. I peronsally love the whole concept of the placebo effect. I think it is usually a funny thing to exploit. A friend in the past brought a keg of ODouls (non alcoholic beer). It was funny to see how many people were acting out of control, until he finally told them what they were actually drinking. Sometimes we are classically condition to do and act certain ways, and the placebo effect just shows us how funny how our mind works.