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
(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."
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.