Spirit and matter

Mind over matter…

Much more than a well-meant deception: Placebo works even when patients are fully aware of the ‘deception’.

How can this be explained?

Researchers at the Boston Medical Center and the Istituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada (ISPA) in Lisbon decided to be frank about the nature of placebo. 97 people suffering from chronic backache were treated in an entirely ‘open-label’ study.

Therefore, two diverse therapies: one traditional and one with placebo, but not before the patients had been informed on the placebo effect. After three weeks, the results were truly surprising:

The patients who had had the placebo pill added to their painkillers felt a whole lot better than their counterparts.

However, the researchers do not wish to be misunderstood in the least: placebo is not by any means a panacea, but it does help patients to feel much better.

The placebo effect, if it is to work well, needs the warmth of the relationship between doctor and patient. Here psychology takes over and the right frame of the patient’s mind is able to ensure that the ‘mind’ is indeed over ‘matter’, that is to say, the ‘body’.