Jamie Hale

Jamie Hale

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What are placebos?

Originally, placebos were thought of as inert pills or medications that were presented by physicians in the medical context or by researchers in clinical or experimental studies. Today, the term has a broader definition and it is used in a variety of settings. Placebos are present in our everyday lives, and sometimes have profound impacts on behaviors, and experiences (different types of placebo effects). The word Placebo is derived from a Latin phrase meaning “to please”.
“A placebo is a substance or procedure that has no inherent power to produce an effect that is sought or expected.” (Williams & Podd, 2004)
In general terms, when considering placebo, the entire ritual surrounding the administration of the substance or procedure is considered. Placebos are context specific. What might be a placebo in one condition may actually serve as a nocebo (opposite placebo, negative outcome) in another context. Also, a placebo in one context may serve as an active treatment (substance, procedure) in another context. Learning and cultural influences play a large role in determining whether a substance or procedure serve as a placebo. The study of placebos has advanced substantially over the past few years, and has provided important information in regards to neurobiology, and various other biological mechanisms. Coming Soon The Amazing World of Placebo Effects: The Neurobiology of Placebo Effects

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