Pride upside down.

Whenever the “placebo effect” is mentioned, people always hurry to say that what they have experienced is not due to that. Somehow, they feel embarrassed to acknowledge that the placebo effect also works on them. Like being fooled by a magician. Instead, they prefer to believe in a pseudo-scientific explanation (homeopathy, chiropractice, reiki, tarot, astrology, …).

There is nothing shameful about the placebo effect. Next time you have a slight headache, try closing your eyes, putting your hand on your forehead and think of something peaceful. You´ll feel better already.

In fact, the placebo effect is more profound than just that. The placebo effect falls in either one of two categories:
– By believing some medicin will work, one feels better already which improves the healing process.
– Some ailments (headaches, sleeplessness, a cold) will improve just automatically and this improvement mistakingly might be attributed to medicins taking during that time.

Ironically, it´s a lot more foolish to believe the unverified and inconsistent theories of new-age quackery than to acccept the placebo effect. A case of pride upside down. The irony is that in their fear to be fooled by a magician, they believe in wizards.



6 thoughts on “Pride upside down.

  1. “- By believing some medicin will work, one feels better already which improves the healing process.” But in what way does it improve the healing process? This is remarkable in it’s own way.

    Are there any placebo ‘side effects’ like side effects of the medicine it self? Is there a reverse pacebo-effect when you tell believers in homeopathy you give them a placebo and you’ll give a ‘real’ homepathic medicin. Isn’t that the way to change their believes?

  2. matxil

    It´s interesting what you say. And yes, both the placebo effect as studies about the difference between the two, certainly I would like to know more about. I am not a doctor or a pharmacist myself (I used to be a physicist), so there´s still a lot of information I would like to look into with more detail.
    I know there are a lot of studies that have been though in this field.

  3. matxil

    What it runs down to is this:
    People feel cured after using homeopathic medicins. There are two possible explanations for this result.
    One is completey crazy (one molecule having an effect to three or four entire swimming pools of water) and goes against all other well established science. That is homeopathy.
    The other is logical, acceptable, proven to exist and not contrary against well established science. That is called the placebo effect.

    To choose for the less likely option simply doesn´t make sense.

  4. You’re right. I agree. But how does the placebo-effect work itself. It’s quite remarkable you can cure yourself just by thinking you’re using a medicin.

  5. matxil

    Well, there are at least two obvious ways.
    First, it doesn´t really “work” at all. A lot of diseases (headaches, the flu, a cold) would disappear anyway, taking a placebo or not. It only seems that the placebo has done the work.
    Second, by “taking your mind of things”. Pain, discomfort, etc…, a lot of these things take place in the mind. A placebo makes one think that he feels better, and for that reason it is already so. Just like an aspirin doesn´t really cure, just takes the sensation of pain anyway, in the same way the placebo might help the patient being less concious of his body. Imagine being very hungry and someone shows you your favorite movie. Although your body is still hungry, your mind is occupied with the movie and so you´re less troubled by it.

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