Placebo Effect

Topics: Pain, Placebo, Opioid Pages: 5 (1505 words) Published: May 4, 2013

Thesis: In order to illustrate a scientific contemporary phenomenon such as a Placebo effect, a methodic itinerary must be abode by.

I. General overview

II. Mechanism of the Effect

III. Clinical Utility

IV. Symptoms, Conditions and Consequences

In our twenty first century, various remedial methods and mechanisms are presented due to the evolution of paramedical science. The healing process of the body works together with the mind. Hence, the treatment process has two dimensions; specific such as placebos and general like psychotherapies (Sheets-Johnstone, 1992, 69). Placebos are used everywhere, and backed up by a psychological tool: the Placebo Effect. A Placebo Effect is based on the illusion of pain relief or recovery created in an ill person’s mind. Nowadays, the field of placebo effect has made an important progress and has become a major focus of discussions. Through the years and all the way back to the first decades, people experienced and relied on placebo effects with or without even noticing, such as the ultimate mechanism of all: the remedy when there’s no healer. The advantage of a placebo effect lies not in the healing powers of the medication itself, but in one’s virtual perceptions and behavior towards that ordinary fictitious-power pill (Wager, 2005, August, 175). This procedure has been more and more studied and implemented, for it creates an optimistic view in the patient’s mind, ignoring therefore any negative stimulus such as physical pain or moral disturbance. These effects and consequences made the studied subjects among the most important phenomena of modern neurophysiological science. In order to illustrate a scientific contemporary phenomenon such as a Placebo effect, a methodic itinerary must be abode by. The mechanism of a placebo effect is an essential step towards revealing its healing power’s mystery. Scientists hypothesized in many ways that placebo effect takes place when ‘minding the body’ (Sheets-Johnstone, 1992, 69). In fact, the process takes place as soon as the human being’s brain commands positive expectations, removing a patient’s cognitive dissonance about his illness (Wager, 2005, August, 175). Over the years, placebo pain reduction elements such as angst/anxiety reduction, endogenous opioids, classical conditioning and changes in response expectancy were well-known phenomena studied by many scientists; on the contrary, the placebo effect in general was not given that importance, due to lack of understanding to its mechanism as a whole psychological issue. Although it is possible to sense pain in a specific site of the body (finger, toe…), one cannot become anxious in specific locations (Montgomery, 1996, May, 174). Thus, all of the endogenous pain relieving mechanisms requires pain perception and illness anticipation in order to be affected throughout the human being’s body. As a matter of example, the patient would expect a feeling of illness and anticipate its consequences as to pain sensitivity right after a conditional stimulus. However, unconditional stimulus (as for the novocaine use) would result analgesic effects in no more than the stimulated area of the body.Placebo effects’ duration is known to vary according to the diagnosed situation. Hence, Placebo effects after verbal suggestion for mild pain can be robust and still exist after being repeated several times even if they have no actual pharmacological pain killing action.This allow us to divide those mechanisms of placebo pain reduction in a dual-based diagram: the ones forcing global responsiveness and perceptive changes called “global mechanisms”, and the others allowing the reflexive modifications as to specific sites of the body, known as “flexible mechanisms” (Montgomery, 1996, May, 174-177). More precisely, to get a clearer view of how the effect works on the ground, an actual test should be taken and detailed. For instance, an experiment has been made in the Connecticut...

References: Montgomery, G. & Kirsch, I. (1996, May). Mechanisms of Placebo Pain Reduction: An Empirical Investigation. Association for Psychological Science. Vol 7(Nr.3); Pg 174
Sheets-Johnstone, M. (Ed). (1992). Giving the Body Its Due. USA:
State University of New York Press
Wager, T.D. (2005, August). The Neural Bases of Placebo Effects in Pain.
Current Directions in Psychological Science. Vol.14 (Nr.4); Pg 175
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