The paradoxical placebo effect and how it works

The paradoxical placebo effect and how it works

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The placebo effect is a pretty notorious enigma in the health field. But more so for reasons of just complete ambiguity. From being studied for over 60 years, there is very little known about this technique beyond the truth of administering an inactive drug and allowing you body to virtually heal itself.

Until recently that is… professor Nicholas Humphrey started shining some light on this mystery paradox. The Emeritus Professor of Psychology at London School of Economics seeks to answer questions like why they work in first place and how we can utilize those neurological pathways to heal ourselves.

He came to a few revelations, like why placebos do not work immediately and our bodies need to feel pain in the first place. Say for instance, in cases involving illness like fever, nausea, or pain, it would not act in our best interest to heal those “defenses” when the actual internal issue could be a bigger threat.

Humphrey argues that in the past we needed to feel the pain in order to properly get medical or social support and resources that were not so steadily available to us. He explains that in the past, placebos would have been a bad idea and “curing ourselves prematurely.” But currently we have higher levels of social support, healthy diets and advanced medications, enabling us to let down our guard and put down those defenses, in ways that we could not do in the past. So this placebo, or contrived optimism – as he refers to, can be just what you need for the interim.

Source and Images: The Royal Institute