The C2S blog draws on the arts, the social and biological sciences to explore the many meanings of health and "dis-ease." Designed to be a locus where patients, their families and professionals can meet on a level playing field, it is the natural off-shoot of the Cell 2 Soul Online Journal. We encourage the submission of ideas, essays, poems, stories, humor, and timely reviews relating to the humanities and health care.
When I was in medical school, a professor told us how he used to write prescriptions for Obecalp. He'd tell his patients it was a new drug that they could only get at the hospital pharmacy. (ObecalpHe'd tell his patients spells placebo backwards.) In today's medical climate, that would be unethical. But it seems that even if the patient knows she is getting a placebo it is still effective. In the U.S. opioids are only around 9% more effective than placebos. And opioids cause 44 deaths a day nationwide.
The author asks, With placebo responses in pain so high — and the risks of drugs so severe — why not prescribe a course of “honest” placebos for those who wish to try it, before proceeding, if necessary, to an active drug?
For a more in-dept discussion see Michael Spector's "The Power of Nothing" in the December 12, 2011 New Yorker.
“Most of our mundane ailments – the average aches, sprains or viruses – are not amenable to much in the way of treatment. Each will run its course in a predictable arc of misery sometimes made a little better by rest, heat, ice, fluids, soup and various pharmaceutical pats.” So argues Abbie Zuger in her insightful NY Times essay, No Cure for Bad Timing. (March 10, 2015).
This fine piece explains why some patients are forever dissatisfied with their medical care and other praise their caregivers.
The effect of placebo on the patient and the patient’s environment is often debated, but people other than the patient may also feel better when a patient receives placebo treatment. This is called Placebo Effect by Proxy. Here is an article co-authored by Ted Kaptchuk on Placebo by Proxy from the British Medical Journal.