Placebo: Cracking the Code

Placebo: Cracking the Code

2002, Science  -   28 Comments
Ratings: 8.55/10 from 74 users.

Featuring members of the the Harvard Placebo Study Group, "Placebo: Cracking the Code" examines the power of belief in alleviating pain, curing disease, and the healing of injuries.

The placebo effect is a pervasive, albeit misunderstood, phenomenon in medicine. In the UK, over 60% of doctors surveyed said they had prescribed placebos in regular clinical practice.

In a recent Times Magazine article, 96% of US physicians surveyed stated that they believe that placebo treatments have real therapeutic effects.

Fascinating documentary about the science and psychology of placebos, centered on a gathering of the Harvard Placebo Study Group at a remote cottage in Ireland.

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suzanne petersen
4 years ago

already did -where is it?

suzanne petersen
4 years ago

After watching this video i have come to the conclusion that placebo's are the best way to help hypocondriacs (people who think they are sick when they are not). But imagining that you can treat serious diseases with fake pills and bogus operations takes us back to the previous century when people with real ailments, some of them very serious, were treated with hostetter's stomach bitters, atkinsons rejuvanating medicine, fake operations, and whatever else, subsequently died in agonizing pain. These doctors are not giving the majority of their patients the help that these patients paid for. The whole thing seems fraudulent to me.

5 years ago

Man was operated on. During the operation multiple incisions were made at the knee joint relieving fluid pressure at the site. Considering all that was done, what do they mean that NOTHING was done?
Did ya'll hear the man walking down the street say that prior to the surgery that his knee was "stiff" which caused pain?
Plenty was done and no recognition................

10 years ago

In Benedetti's experiment, the volunteer could have just become accustomed to the pain, and he could have built up tolerance to the shocks, which is why he felt less pain after repeated

Berta Brass
10 years ago

I do not talk to the aspirins, but I talk to my body, and it believes anything I tell it, to the point that at my 74th years, I have no wrinkles, and barely a few gray hairs.

10 years ago

Nonsense! indeed it's interesting and may work on some levels ( minor ones ) but proportionally it's useless.I have anxiety disorder and i'm currently taking medication; give me a placebo and i will kill you in the morning! We can not neglect the power of thinking ( positively in this case ) , but depression medications regulate chemicals in our brains like for ex ( serotonin ), which can not be replaced by a placebo.

10 years ago

There's an interesting, maybe slightly sensational television special about the placebo effect that was made by the very talented British magician, hypnotist, illusionist & all round entertaining & funny personality: Derren Brown.

It's easy to find on YouTube & in my opinion worth the watch if not for just the entertainment factor. He touches on the different effects that the shape & colour of pills & capsules have on the "patients".

Now, understand that the positive effects occurred in people primarily suffering from various phobias (once again, real or imagined medical issues? . . . all psychological afflictions) who most but not all as a result of therapy via his prescribed "medication", positive interaction & affirmative coaching made profound improvements in their lives.

10 years ago

I will speak to my own experience with medical issues & medication. I have broken my back on 3 different occasions. The term "broken back" is in itself a very generalized term & oft used incorrectly. I should specify that at no time was my spinal column severed. I crushed some vertebrae in a gymnastics accident in my late teens & again twice more in different motorcycle accidents in my 20's. With this, several discs were ruptured along with torn muscle, tendons, ligaments, knees damaged & much more wonderfully painful injuries of the internal kind.

I have since under gone countless "procedures" to both investigate & cure. (Most of them very painful & invasive. Gotta love those spinal taps.) Several surgeries later & lots of surgical stainless steel hardware installed & throughout this time, consuming bushels of medication.

I have attended many pain clinics, consulted countless physicians & even found myself lying naked on the floor of different living rooms of private homes while someone chanted & massaged my body with pungent smoke permeating the room.

Years later (still in pain daily) I have come to the realization that sure, placebos can work for some people. In my pain clinic sessions, often surrounded by people afflicted with fantom pain with no real diagnosis as to the source of their problems but just the same living horribly restricted lives as a result of their conditions, I have heard countless stories of progress & relief from individuals convinced that they were ill or injured only to find out that the source of their relief was in fact a placebo. Most of these people immediately went into denial or stated that they really didn't have any relief after finding out the truth of their medication.

Now, when someone had suffered a real (not perceived) injury or medical ailment it was always an entirely different story. I think that Waldo touched on this in his comment about the power of the mind & if we can "heal" ourselves, perhaps we can also "harm" ourselves.

I will conclude with the fact that doctors have tried placebos on me to no result. I am of the firm belief that if an injury or illness is of a certain degree, then placebos will have no effect. Real pain, real illness requires real medication & or therapy. Please know that I am well aware of the power of the mind & it's effect on our wellness. I actually believe that mindfulness is very important in the proper or maybe best way to live.

In the meantime, I was continually put off by the tedium & all the whining & general circle jerks that would ensue in these pain clinics with people who had never once suffered a traumatic injury or illness. Mind you, to them, their pain was a very real thing. I still struggle each day & do my best to get on with life. When you are young, you are invincible. I just turned 50 yrs old about a week & a half ago. It does not get easier as you age. I know I am still a relatively young man but with my years have come some experience with the medical field, therapies, medication & the placebo effect & the resulting effects of each.

I guess I didn't conclude this comment earlier as I said I would. My apologies to all for the length of this comment but this is a subject very close to home for me. With this final statement I will now conclude my musings: If you have real problems you need real help. If you have imaginary problems then placebos should do the trick for you just fine. All the best & good health to all friends of TDF. That is all.

10 years ago

Placebo... for many years I was very curious to know why it worked and finally after about 30 years of waiting some doctors are looking into it. I think the mistake is to apply objective reasoning into a technic or tactic that is subjective and seems to be capricious. But WTH, give it go it can't hurt to try. Good documentary.

10 years ago

If only all the money spent on wars and military equipment was spent on the Human mind and how it works we could stop war, religion, gambling, serial killers, depression etc.

10 years ago

Tha's why Coffee makes me live longer and makes me say things like "I know only what i can observe, and its only what i think i know."

*smokes pipe* :3 i love teh placebo.

10 years ago

Great documentary, empowering information for all of us

maddest max
10 years ago

Wise doctors know that studies have shown that suppositories are a more effective placebo than tablets. "Bend over I'll cure you".

Oh dear, my mind instantly leaps to modern politicians, LOL.

10 years ago

the placebo effect show how powerful our body and mind is...

like i always say, the body is simply a great machine!

Ozren Škondri?
10 years ago

placebo is another name for "your thoughts directly influence your biology" ...imho