I’ve had a long time interest in the placebo effect. This article was written by a friend, a really talented writer.
I’m on sertraline (a serotonin booster) to help with depression. My psychiatrist doesn’t quite seem to know what to make of me when I state that “… the medication is either working or I’m in the 35% of the placebo effect.” Either way is good, as long as it works, right?
That was an interesting read thank you.
If you know they work even if you know they don’t work, do you know they don’t work? And if you don’t know they don’t work, do they work even if you know they work because you know they work even if you know they don’t work?
My GP just says “You know biochemistry is science, but medicine still isn’t really.” His favorite example is phenacetin. Its action on the body is well understood, its metabolic pathways defined. But nobody knows how it works as a painkiller.
The depths of the connection between your mind and your body is something we’re still struggling to comprehend. While science can break it all down into chemicals and electrical signals, your brain can affect your body on a far deeper level than just taking a pill. I’m fascinated by how placebos can kick your mind into gear on fixing things that’re going wrong.
Unfortunately, custom placebos are likely only going to work for a certain percentage of the population…
Genetics and the Placebo Effect: the Placebome
Genetic biomarkers of placebo response: what could it mean for future trial design?
I was expecting a Stack Social advertisement after reading the title. I need some deconditioning.
And more importantly, why the fuck doesn’t it just do it as a matter of course, if it has the capability. Stupid brain.
Many years ago, I took a course that could be described as “brain hacking”, experimenting with ways to make your mind do stuff you didn’t know it could do. We started with learning how to meditate and relax, and did some hypnosis. One day the teacher attached sensors to my forehead and fingers to monitor my temperature, and led me through a meditation where I pictured myself taking a very very hot shower, and then a very very cold shower. Afterwards they showed me that I’d raised my body temperature about three degrees, then lowered it about three degrees. It was a small thing, but it made me realize how much potential we have for affecting our bodies with our minds… it’s just a shame we have to sort of trick it.
I don’t see that as unfortunate at all. I know too many people who have been messed up by unexpected food/drug/other drug reactions. Since everyone gets sick in different ways, it only follows everyone gets well in different ways.
A friend of mine has symptoms that sound like they’re from a special two-part episode of House. Since her illness (possibly illnesses) don’t fit neatly into any one diagnosis, she has to fight to get any treatment. Mostly the doctors alternate between “we don’t know what’s wrong with you so we’re cautious about doing anything” and “we don’t know what’s wrong with you, so despite the abnormal lab results we’re going to declare there is nothing known wrong with you and hope you’ll go away”.
She’s been joking she wishes they would just give her placebos to see what happens.