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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Inverse Placebo?

Most of the time when we read a finding report of a study, we are more likely to stumble upon the word "placebo" especially when the study involves controlled variables. Some of those report would tell you that the treatment given is more effective than the placebo, which is a term given for the treatment that looks like the real treatment, except that it's fake. Some others would tell you that the effect of the real treatment is not significantly different than the placebo. The latter is the results that most researchers would not wish to encounter, but findings are findings.

But another way to look at placebo is called "the placebo effect" in which the placebo has the similar effect with the real treatment because the mind is told that it would work the same way with the real treatment. So, it is not that the real treatment does not work, it is just that the placebo works equally wonderfully if the mind is suggested so. So, is it fair for the real treatment if this happens? I reckon not. So, what if we look at placebo differently?

Rather than conjuring up a stuff and administer it as a placebo, why not make the real treatment as the placebo? What I mean is, maybe to avoid the placebo effect, get rid of the fake treatment altogether, instead administer the real treatment and call it something else, anything else, as long as it is not the intended purpose of the thing. For example, drug A is supposed/believed to cure morning flu, so in order to see if it's really working, gather up a group of sample who suffer from morning flu, and administer them this drug, except tell them that it's for something else, like providing energy for morning activities. Then, maybe see if the drug works for what it is intended for: Reducing the symptoms of morning flu.

I tried to search the web about this but apparently the only thing I stumbled upon was something called as a "nocebo", a phenomenon where a placebo administered causes the condition to be even worse. And this article discussed about expectation that is manipulated directly in relation to the purpose of the drug - which is whether the painkiller would kill pain or not. But it's different than what I'm talking about here. What I am saying is that, redirect the focus of the drug's use from the intended purpose altogether to the belief that is totally irrelevant.

Or maybe my googling skill is not up to par?

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