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  The Placebo Response

Scientists and healers have long known about the remarkable power of the placebo response. Howard Brody, M.D., is a physician at Michigan State University who has written a book called The Placebo Response: How You Can Release the Body's Inner Pharmacy for Better Health (New York: HarperCollins, 2000). He defines the placebo response as "a change in the body (or the body-mind unit) that occurs as the result of the symbolic significance that one attributes to an event or object in the healing environment."

Doctors Daniel Moerman and Wayne Jonas suggest thinking about the placebo response in a new way (Moerman DE and Jonas WB. Deconstructing the placebo effect and finding the meaning response. Annals of Internal Medicine 2002;136:471-476). They define “the meaning response” as the physiologic or psychologic effects of meaning in the origins or treatment of illness; meaning responses elicited after the use of inert or sham treatment can be called the “placebo effect” when they are desirable and the “nocebo effect” when they are undesirable.

Clearly, the placebo or meaning response is a critical element of healing.



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