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Placebo - Healing the Body with the Mind

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Why Syzygy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 08:36 AM
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Placebo - Healing the Body with the Mind
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 08:39 AM by Why Syzygy
Featuring members of the the Harvard Placebo Study Group, "Placebo: Cracking the Code" examines the power of belief in alleviating pain, curing disease, and the healing of injuries.

The placebo effect is a pervasive, albeit misunderstood, phenomenon in medicine. In the UK, over 60% of doctors surveyed said they had prescribed placebos in regular clinical practice. In a recent Times Magazine article, 96% of US physicians surveyed stated that they believe that placebo treatments have real therapeutic effects.

Work on the placebo effect received an intellectual boost when the Harvard Placebo Study Group was founded at the beginning of 2001. This group is part of the Mind-Brain-Behavior Initiative at Harvard University, and its main characteristic is the interdisciplinary approach to the placebo phenomenon. The group is made up of 8 members: Anne Harrington (Historian of Science at Harvard), Howard Fields (Neuroscientist at Univ. of California in San Francisco), Dan Moerman (Anthropologist at Univ. of Michigan), Nick Humphrey (Evolutionary Psychologist at London School of Economics), Dan Wegner (Psychologist at Harvard), Jamie Pennebaker (Psychologist at Univ. of Texas in Austin), Ginger Hoffman (Behavioral Geneticist at Harvard) and Fabrizio Benedetti (Neuroscientist at Univ. of Turin). The main objective of the group is two-fold: to devise new experiments that may shed light on the placebo phenomenon and to write papers in which the placebo effect is approached from different perspectives.

The program is articulated in different lines of research with both national and international collaborations. The main goal is to create a research network aimed at understanding some basic neural mechanisms and their potential clinical applications. The following is a summary.

The placebo effect

The central topic of research is the placebo effect, considered from different perspectives. First, we investigate the neurobiological mechanisms of the placebo effect in the nociceptive and motor system from a general point of view. Second, we use the placebo response as a model to understand the interactions between a complex mental activity and specific neural systems. Third, we consider the placebo effect as an anticipatory response of both analgesia and motor improvement. In fact, part of the placebo response is based on mechanisms of expectancy and anticipation. Fourth, we are interested in the clinical implications and applications. In fact, we try to develop therapeutic protocols in which active drug and placebo are administered together. This may help reduce the intake of drugs like morphine and levodopa. (...)
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Celebration Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:03 AM
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1. glad to hear it
Harnessing the power of the placebo effect, and using it therapeutically could go a long way to control soaring medical costs. It's great that places like Harvard are studying it for that potential.
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