Wednesday, July 16, 2008



I remembered that I wanted to know how placebo exactly functions, I have high hopes for it. I dump links here as I discover new stuff that I consider relevant to the topic.
Click on the videos to watch the complete series on YouTube.


"A compassionate, hands-on approach may be more valuable than any single medical therapy.’’ In one extreme case, Dr Herbert Spiegel, of Columbia University, believes that it may have had a hand in a patient’s death. Writing in the report 'Nocebo: The Power of Suggestibility', he reports a case at a large American Roman Catholic hospital, where doctors called for a priest to administer last rites. By mistake, the priest went to the wrong bed and so the wrong patient.

“He gave this patient last rites with an impressive air of authority and a brusque voice,” says Dr Spiegel. Within 15 minutes, that patient was dead, while the other lived for a few more days."
From Times Online - Thinking Yourself Sick

"There is a small group of patients in whom the realisation of impending death is a blow so terrible that they are quite unable to adjust to it, and they die rapidly before the malignancy seems to have developed enough to cause death. This problem of self-willed death is in some ways analogous to the death produced in primitive peoples by witchcraft ('pointing the bone')."
From “Self-willed death or the bone-pointing syndrome,” G.W. Milton, Lancet June 23 1973 pp. 1436-1437

"Alarmingly, the nocebo effect can even be catching. Cases where symptoms without an identifiable cause spread through groups of people have been around for centuries, a phenomenon known as mass psychogenic illness. One outbreak (see "It's catching") inspired a recent study by psychologists Irving Kirsch and Giuliana Mazzoni of the University of Hull in the UK.
Despite the growing evidence that the nocebo effect is all too real, it is hard in this rational age to accept that people's beliefs can kill them. After all, most of us would laugh if a strangely attired man leapt about waving a bone and told us we were going to die. But imagine how you would feel if you were told the same thing by a smartly dressed doctor with a wallful of medical degrees and a computerful of your scans and test results."
From: NewScientist - The science of voodoo: When mind attacks body (Full Text)

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