A placebo is a pharmacologically inert compound administered blind to a control group as a way of testing an active substance as a treatment for an illness. Allegedly, the patient’s belief in the effectiveness of a drug or treatment often brings about a cure or improvement in itself.
The ‘placebo effect’ occurs when people perceive that treatment makes them feel better, even if the treatment is fake. The placebo effect is the amelioration of symptoms not attributable to medication. Thus placebos represent a rather mind magic trick that can be used to boost immunity and alleviate pain even if doctors know the ailment is really in the heads of the patients.
When doctors know that placebos might help their patients, can passing off dummy drugs as medication be unethical or a breach of the patient’s trust in the doctor?
- “The Placebo Effect: An Interdisciplinary Exploration”by Anne Harrington
- “You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter”by Joe Dispenza