Effective or Ineffective?

Belief is different for everyone, and I don’t mean everyone has different beliefs. Each person has a belief that they feel strongly about. We can apply this to placebos. Whether you believe placebos work or not doesn’t matter. What matters is if you feel that it gives effective results. And that can only stand true if you are susceptible to the idea that it will work. Open-mindedness to alternative medical therapies is the distinguishing characteristic shared by patients who report successful outcomes of placebo treatment.

Psychological factors play a key role in a placebo treatment. One’s brain decides whether treatments effectively work or not. Back in its earliest uses, placebos led to “the evolution of the physician from witch doctor and priest-physician” according the American Journal of Psychotherapy. Galen estimated that 60% of patients had symptoms that were more emotional than physical. The medical treatments were not trustworthy, for they were rarely scientifically proven to work. Patients would ingest anything given to them. Their only concern was to get better, so the patients gave into therapeutic practices such as puking, leeching, shocking to name a few. Some are still used today like heating in the sauna, freezing in an ice bath or cupping to relax muscles. As bizarre as they sound, patients still believed that there were lasting effects. Dr. Arthur K. Shapiro, M.D. stated “medicine was closely related to the finest scientific, religious, cultural, and ethical traditions in most periods of history…” Now that may leave one to wonder how one of these traditions can cause such an impact on one’s health. But, proven in history, most of these drugs and procedures were helpful to particular patients. If not for the temporary aid these practices provided, physicians would not be giving such prescriptions today. The only reason for patients to have believed in successful results was the fact that psychological factors forced them to. Depending on the diagnosis at hand, the effect may sometimes lead to failure. Not every disease or disorder may be cured from psychological phenomenons. In a more recent term, these psychological factors were known as the placebo effect.

How much of an effect can these practices actually cause? Is there an effect at all? It all comes down to the individual and what they need a cure for. If someone really wants something, they’d do everything they can to get what they want. We can apply this to the placebo effect. Patients most of the time want to feel better, free of unnecessary stress and setbacks caused by the disorder they have. It’s all about having the right mind-set. Having an optimistic personality would help as well. Only the patient can decide whether they feel better or not. Without the right attitude, it is very unlikely the patient will discover how to end their suffering.

It is more reasonable to believe that minor health conditions are the only treatable causes of placebos. Symptoms that can be cured through off the counter drugs. They may include pain or depression or other slight side effects.

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2 Responses to Causal-rowanstudent

  1. davidbdale says:

    Let’s get started, RowanStudent!

    What causes patients to feel that the placebo is the right treatment?

    That’s definitely a good Causal Question, RS, but it’s not a Causal claim or hypothesis. For that, you’d have to be making a strong declarative statement. Also, you’d need to specify whether in your hypothesis the patient KNOWS or DOESN’T KNOW she’s taking a placebo. Your hypothesis, stated as a Causal Claim, would be something like:

    Open-mindedness to alternative medical therapies is the distinguishing characteristic shared by patients who report successful outcomes of placebo treatment.

    Rephrasing your next suggestion:

    How much of an effect does the treatment have?

    That’s also not a claim, and it’s not actually a Causal Question, RS. It’s a Quantitative Question that rests on the premise that placebos actually DO HAVE AN EFFECT. Now THAT is a Causal Claim: Placebos HAVE therapeutic EFFECT.

    Once you establish that they do, you can explore your other Quantitative or Comparative question of Which One Works Best and Lasts Longest?, pills, or therapy?

    But everything rests on evidence that placebos CAUSE medical improvement, or cures, or alleviation of ailments.

    (Of course, an equally acceptable outcome would be to discover that, in fact, they don’t. Your job isn’t to prove that they do; it’s to share the truth, whatever it turns out to be. Remain open to surprise.)

  2. rowanstudent2 says:

    Again, a VERY late response, but this feedback helped me to start. By you providing the causal claim about placebos having an effect, it allowed me to know where to begin with this short argument.

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