Placebo Effect: A Cure in the Mind
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Scientific American
Posted: February 25th, 2013
Mr. Wright was dying from cancer of the lymph nodes ... and his doctors had exhausted all available treatments. Nevertheless, Mr. Wright was confident that a new anticancer drug called Krebiozen would cure him. [He] was bedridden and fighting for each breath when he received his first injection. But three days later [his] tumors had shrunk by half, and after 10 more days of treatment he was discharged from the hospital. Over the next two months, however, Mr. Wright became troubled by press reports questioning the efficacy of Krebiozen and suffered a relapse. His doctors decided to lie to him: an improved, doubly effective version of the drug was due to arrive the next day, they told him. Mr. Wright was ecstatic. The doctors then gave him an injection that contained not one molecule of the drugand he improved even more than he had the last time. Soon he walked out of the hospital symptom-free. He remained healthy until two months later, when, after reading reports that exposed Krebiozen as worthless, he died within days. As Mr. Wrights experience illustrates, a patients expectations and beliefs can greatly affect the course of an illness. When psychological factors tied to an inactive substance such as Krebiozen lead to recovery, doctors call the improvement a placebo effect. In recent decades reports have confirmed the efficacy of [these] treatments in nearly all areas of medicine. Placebos can help not only to alleviate illnesses with an obvious psychological component, such as pain, depression and anxiety, but also to lessen the symptoms of Parkinsons disease and inflammatory disorders. Occasionally, as in Mr. Wrights case, placebos have shrunk tumors.
Note: To view this article in full, click here. With such dramatic results, why isn't more money being poured into research on the power of the mind and our beliefs to affect our health?