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Human mind: Knowingly taking fake pills actually eases pain

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From ScienceDaily:

A new study is the first to demonstrate beneficial placebo effect for lower back pain sufferers who knew they were taking ‘fake pills.’ Patients who knowingly took placebos reported 30 percent less pain and 29 percent reduction in disability compared to control group. ‘Open-labeling’ addresses longtime ethical dilemma, allowing patients to choose placebo treatments with informed consent.

“These findings turn our understanding of the placebo effect on its head,” said joint senior author Ted Kaptchuk, director of the Program for Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “This new research demonstrates that the placebo effect is not necessarily elicited by patients’ conscious expectation that they are getting an active medicine, as long thought. Taking a pill in the context of a patient-clinician relationship — even if you know it’s a placebo — is a ritual that changes symptoms and probably activates regions of the brain that modulate symptoms.” Paper. (paywall) – Cláudia Carvalho, Joaquim Machado Caetano, Lidia Cunha, Paula Rebouta, Ted J. Kaptchuk, Irving Kirsch. Open-label placebo treatment in chronic low back pain. PAIN, 2016; 1 DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000700More.

We are strange creatures, even to ourselves. Not only can we, contrary to the latest “evolution” claim, understand reality, but we know when to just set it aside. 😉

See also: Parkinson’s patients learn to use placebos?

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3 Replies to “Human mind: Knowingly taking fake pills actually eases pain

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    Taking a pill in the context of a patient-clinician relationship — even if you know it’s a placebo — is a ritual that changes symptoms

    I would say that this finding lends further support to the Theistic notion that beliefs, even small beliefs, are important. And I would also hold that this is further evidence for the Theistic contention that there is a metaphysical part to nature as well as physical part.

    Sedgwick, Adam to Darwin – 24 Nov 1859
    Excerpt: There is a moral or metaphysical part of nature as well as a physical. A man who denies this is deep in the mire of folly.,,
    http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/entry-2548

    To further back up the claim that beliefs are important to health, it is found belief in God ‘is one of the best-kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally’

    “, I maintain that whatever else faith may be, it cannot be a delusion.
    The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best-kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally. If the findings of the huge volume of research on this topic had gone in the opposite direction and it had been found that religion damages your mental health, it would have been front-page news in every newspaper in the land.”
    – Professor Andrew Sims former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Is Faith Delusion?: Why religion is good for your health – preface
    https://books.google.com/books?id=PREdCgAAQBAJ&pg=PR11#v=onepage&q&f=false
    “In the majority of studies, religious involvement is correlated with well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life; higher self-esteem; better adaptation to bereavement; greater social support and less loneliness; lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression; lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes towards suicide; less anxiety; less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies; lower rates of alcohol and drug use and abuse; less delinquency and criminal activity; greater marital stability and satisfaction… We concluded that for the vast majority of people the apparent benefits of devout belief and practice probably outweigh the risks.”
    – Professor Andrew Sims former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Is Faith Delusion?: Why religion is good for your health – page 100
    https://books.google.com/books?id=PREdCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA100#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Atheism and health
    A meta-analysis of all studies, both published and unpublished, relating to religious involvement and longevity was carried out in 2000. Forty-two studies were included, involving some 126,000 subjects. Active religious involvement increased the chance of living longer by some 29%, and participation in public religious practices, such as church attendance, increased the chance of living longer by 43%.[4][5]
    http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism_and_health

    Of related interest to spiritual belief improving mental health, it is also found that ‘knowledge of the afterlife deters suicide’

    Knowledge of the afterlife deters suicide. Lessons From the Light by Kenneth Ring and Evelyn Elsaesser p.257-258:
    As far as I know, the first clinician to make use of NDE material in this context was a New York psychologist named John McDonagh. In 1979, he presented a paper at a psychological convention that described his success with several suicidal patients using a device he called “NDE bibliotherapy.” His “technique” was actually little more than having his patients read some relevant passages from Raymond Moody’s book, Reflections on Life after Life, after which the therapist and his patient would discuss its implications for the latter’s own situation. McDonagh reports that such an approach was generally quite successful not only in reducing suicidal thoughts but also in preventing the deed altogether.

    Since McDonagh’s pioneering efforts, other clinicians knowledgeable about the NDE who have had the opportunity to counsel suicidal patients have also reported similar success. Perhaps the most notable of these therapists is Bruce Greyson, a psychiatrist now at the University of Virginia, whose specialty as a clinician has been suicidology. He is also the author of a classic paper on NDEs and suicide which the specialist may wish to consult for its therapeutic implications. (14)
    Quite apart from the clinicians who have developed this form of what we might call “NDE-assisted therapy,” I can draw upon my own personal experience here to provide additional evidence of how the NDE has helped to deter suicide. The following case,,,
    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/201.....lains.html

    It seems that knowing that actually is a purpose to life is particularly beneficial for us:

    Lack of ultimate meaning in life associated with alcohol abuse, drug addiction and other mental health problems – August 2015
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....092911.htm

    And here is a recent Near Death Experience testimony, which I watched this afternoon, that I found to be a pleasure to watch:

    Erica McKenzie NDE talk 2016
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6udn-HTleM

  2. 2

    Love the NDE video. Thank you.

  3. 3

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