Time Magazine addresses the problem that neuroscientists who think the mind is real often discuss (John Cloud, October 13, 2009):
How people react to a medication depends in large part on how they think about it.
Exactly why the placebo and nocebo responses arise is a puzzle, but a fascinating article in Wired magazine noted earlier this year that the positive placebo response to drugs has increased during clinical trials over the past few years. The article speculated that drug advertising – which exploded after 1997, when the Food and Drug Administration began allowing direct-to-consumer ads – has led us to expect more from drugs. Those expectations, in turn, have made us feel better just for popping a pill. (Placebo responses can also occur simply when you book appointments with doctors[*] or psychotherapists[**].)
No surprise, really. If your problem is,
– *Why should I pay $159.95 plus tax for a medication? Dunno. Maybe some consumer research would pay off.
But if the question is
– **”Why am I still living with The Mad Idiot?”, well, why are you? In most jurisdictions there would be a peaceful way to end the relationship. If not, please hold a revolution soon.
Anyway, sitting in a psychotherapist’s office helps you, because it establishes that you take your own welfare seriously. In an intelligently designed universe, that is the first step on the road to recovery.