Essay about Placebo and Nocebo

807 Words Mar 8th, 2014 4 Pages
New Insight Into the Placebo and Nocebo Effect In Helen Pilcher’s article, “The New Witch Doctors: How Belief Can Kill,” she discusses the ethical dilemmas of the power of patients’ beliefs in the nocebo and placebo effects. The power of belief is so strong it can either make the patient feel better or become even sicker. This causes a problem for doctors because no matter how they state the truth it always ends up becoming a problem in the end. A placebo is a dummy pill that can produce a very real response in the patient. This effect convinces people that they will feel better when in reality they did not take any medication. The expectations of the patient play an important role in the placebo effect; the more a person expects the …show more content…
The nocebo effect is the phenomenon in which inert substances actually bring about negative effects in a patient. For some, when a doctor informs a patient about a pill or procedure’s potential side effects, it can bring about real life symptoms. Moreover, if a doctor tells a patient that he only has five years to live, that patient is prone to have that negative thought in his mind. Pilcher quotes Guy Montgomery saying, “It can happen days before, or on the journey on the way in”(page 4). This negative mind set is making the patient become even more ill then he originally is. This suggests that because the power of belief, if the patient thinks he is truly going to die in five years, he will. Furthermore, doctors have much bigger power over their patients because their patients trust their medical expertise. Many people believe that if something can hurt you, it will. Helen Pilcher quotes Meador in her article saying, “Bad news promotes bad physiology” (page 5). This all depends on how much information doctor’s relay to their patients, as well as how they present that information. However, there are also solutions that are able to make the nocebo effect not as problematic. The first solution is hypnosis, which decreases patients’ anxiety and stress. When a patient is told how much longer they have to live, the patient now

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