8th May 2014: The Placebo Effect by Derek Howden


Come along to The Counting House at 7pm to listen to Derek’s talk. Share a crust of bread, and hear the reflections he has to share…

Title of talk:

The Placebo Effect


Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:

  • History of Placebo
  • Doctors use of Placebo through the times
  • My trainers were placebos
  • What doctors discovered
  • Belief and Expectation play a vital role in patient recovery
  • Implications and moral dilemmas of placebos
  • Solution? Be honest

A few paragraphs on your subject:

The mystery of the Placebo which has been known by doctors for centuries had to be factored into every medical trial due to average 30% of people will show better or similar results. Even if you give both groups a placebo.

Doctors are baffled until they accept this and factor it into their healing practices and some doctors in some countries still blatantly prescribe them when they feel they have nothing else for a patient. A lot of a GP’s work is often with the same people trying different drugs hoping to find the right one for the patient. The advances of smart medicines specifically targeted to genetic profiles does offer hopeful avenues in how a medicine can specifically tailored to a patient. But at the moment its hit and miss and nowadays Prozac can not beat a placebo, such is the belief and expectation of Prozac, when tested so doctors are still practising.

The belief and expectation results do nothing if not prove that there is a physiological and real connection of mind to body and body to mind and each can affect the other in many bizarre and wonderful ways from all religions and their testament of miracles of healers, potions, chants and prayers all apparently randomly working for some of the people some of the time and if you were to give it a percentage? From reiki and crystals and unlucky rabbit feet belief and expectation is intertwined into our lives positively and negatively which Introduces the Nocebo effect, the doctors despair because they know that if a patient doesn’t hold out much hope for a proven and approved tablet they can sabotage their own recovery with negative belief and expectation and the medication doesn’t work. It seems that the Placebo effect is needed for real medication too! And doctors today do recognise this which is creating a new creative holistic well being centered approach to recovery and health care practises.

The doctors dilemma? they can’t lie about a drug but in order for it to work they need to lie but they are questioning how they can get round it and certainly wish they could. Doctors reckon about eighty percent of their patients are psychosomatic in nature and struggle with anyway to lift them out of illness. In the good old days the doctor would give a placebo and say come back tomorrow if you get worse. And often they don’t because they work for a while and then the patient revisits the GP and so it goes on.

It throws some questions into the arena of healthcare. An industry financially driven by the cost of drugs unlikely to investigate if 30% of their market could be given a placebo instead or the allotted twenty minute doctors appointment extending care into support groups that are positive fostering high expectation and belief in the care they provide.


A few paragraphs about you:

Thinker and Dreamer

What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend to others if they wish to explore your chosen theme further?


What are your weblinks?


Website – edinburghfringelive.co.uk

Blog – placebocures.com

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