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Can we make placebo effect work for us "on-demand"?

Image credit: https://wchh.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/psb.344; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cebocap.jpg#file

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Povilas S
Povilas S Dec 29, 2020
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Making use of classical conditioning

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Povilas S
Povilas S Dec 29, 2020

[1]Rosenberg, Robin; Kosslyn, Stephen (2010). Abnormal Psychology. Worth Publishers. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-4292-6356-6.

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Povilas S
Povilas S Dec 31, 2020

[1]Durand VM, Barlow D (2009). Abnormal psychology: an integrative approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. pp. 334. ISBN 978-0-495-09556-9.

Self-administered placebo

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Jan 06, 2021

[1]Arthur K. Shapiro, Valerie Mike, Harvey Barten, Elaine Shapiro, Study of the placebo effect with a self-administered placebo test, Comprehensive Psychiatry, Volume 14, Issue 6, 1973, Pages 535-548, ISSN 0010-440X, https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-440X(73)90039-4. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0010440X73900394)

[2]Darragh M, Yow B, Kieser A, Booth RJ, Kydd RR, Consedine NS. A take-home placebo treatment can reduce stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression in a non-patient population. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2016 Sep;50(9):858-65. doi: 10.1177/0004867415621390. Epub 2015 Dec 16. PMID: 26681262.

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Povilas S
Povilas S16 days ago
As I understand the participants in both of the studies (or at least in the second one) didn't know that they are getting placebos? But what you are suggesting is that a person would know this and would choose between two apparently different types of placebos (presented in a different way, but still knowing that they are essentially the same)? And that the self-assessment of the effects of apparently different placebos would be an important part of this?
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni15 days ago
Povilas S The participants in both the studies did not know they were taking placebos. Yes, I am suggesting exactly that. The self-assessment will be an important part of this. I am thinking of updating my suggestion as I am writing this reply to you. I don't think anyone has used placebo the way I suggest. I don't know whether it will work. But here is why I think it might work -

How does placebo work? - We know something is good for us/ our body. We take it believing that it will improve our status. Just the thought that something will be beneficial causes an additional or a fast improvement, which is over and above that caused by the thing (medication, therapy) that we administer. This is when we did not know much about the placebo effect.

Now we know how placebo works. We know that placebo can be beneficial to us. Placebo is a good thing. So, instead of the medication, we may be able to use the placebo as the thing that we administer. Since we now believe that the placebo is beneficial, the placebo might in turn create a placebo effect. Does any of this make sense?

Moreover, since the person knows it is a placebo, we do not need a third party for blinding. However, I think the self-assessments are necessary for three reasons - 1. By doing the assessments, you put some work into the therapy. You invest in it. This creates an interest in your treatment, which in turn causes a placebo effect. The rewards that you expect are always proportional to your investment. As an example, here is an article that says that costly placebos work better than cheap ones (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080304173339.htm). When you pay, you invest in your treatment. This causes a greater improvement in your status. 2. You can track your improvement. You can set a goal and know when you have reached it. You can stop the treatment then. 3. You get to know more about the thing you are suffering from. You can avoid things that cause it in the future.
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Povilas S
Povilas S9 days ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni I agree with the investment part. In the first part, you seem to be talking (more or less) about open-label placebo (OLP). When the person knows that he/she is receiving a placebo and is usually explained that this should work because of the placebo effect. This approach is getting popular recently and there are more and more studies researching OLP treatment. But they are still controversial for now and more research will have to be done before they can get established as legit treatment. Some articles presented evidence that OLPs work just as well as DPs (deceptive placebos). However, this is doubtful, because the placebo effect has a lot to do with expectations and expectations are higher when you think you are receiving the real thing.

Blind chance

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Povilas S
Povilas S Dec 31, 2020

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