Creative consulting: more about placebos?
In the fifth article in his series David Reilly is joined by Zelda Di Blasi to look at the placebo response
- By: David Reilly
If placebos are inactive, what is it that produces the remarkable changes? Do not ask what the placebo can do but, “What can the thing that responds to the placebo do?” You will end up thinking about self healing and self destructive processes.
Just as you can work backwards from a successful recovery to study healing reactions,1 you can consider what placebo reactions say about healing responses and better care. If placebo can provoke a change indirectly perhaps we can learn to do so directly, because we are the only possible pathway for placebo action. The implications of this pathway, between our consciousness and our biology, can be missing in academic debate about placebo,234 but the discovery that people responding to placebo show definite brain scan changes can bring it back into focus.5
Universal cultural features in healing rituals24
Distress can be modified--as, for example, physical pain: in one study