Dodo Bird Meets Goldilocks: Psychotherapy And The Placebo Effect

This “Dodo bird verdict” (DBV) — everybody has won — has been applied to a long-time and never-ending debate about which psychotherapy approach is more effective in treating patients in need of psychotherapy (1), psychodynamic psychotherapy (PDPT), cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy (CBT), or one of the many other therapy modalities that exist in between and beyond and claim to be the best for all and everybody. Psychotherapists of all colors and proveniences have a clear answer to this question: Mine is the best because I believe it in and I am good at it…... ​The empirical side of this competition tells a different story. Whenever different psychotherapies were tested in clinical trials against another therapy of the same or different kind or against another control condition (see below), the effects of one therapy was not that much different from another therapy. Meta-analyses of today (2) confirm what Rosenzweig described in the classical DBV paper 80 years ago (1): All psychotherapies operate with similar assumptions, implement similar means, and generate similar results, based on what has been called “common factors” that are immanent to all psychotherapy traditions.

On The Shoulders Of Giants, Part 1: Henry K. Beecher And The Placebo Effect

​But when you look at the distribution of genuine placebo publications in our database (3) (Figure) it was not before the late 1950's when placebo research started to slowly grow, and two milestone papers mark the beginning of it: Henry Beecher’s ever-since-cited paper, “The Powerful Placebo,” of 1955 (4), and Stewart Wolf’s almost completely forgotten, “The Pharmacology of Placebos,” of 1959 (5)

Open-Label Placebo (OLP): Take This, It Is A Sugar Pill, It Will Help You!

When Lee D. Park, M.D. and Uno Covi, M.D. from the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, back in the 1960s, gave their depressed patients placebos, they did exactly this — told them that the pill did not contain an active pharmacological agent (at that time, likely a classical tricyclic antidepressant), but was a placebo. They were surprised to see that it did work (1): 14 of their 15 patients reported improved symptoms a week later, and no difference was found between those that had believed they were taking the placebo and those that had — upon questioning — believed they had received a real drug.

How Pain Works

Let's say that you stub your toe. Nerves in the toe known as nociceptors, tasked with sensing pain, go into action. They send messages to the spinal cord that pain has occurred; the worse the stub, the more rapidly and powerfully they fire. The spinal cord then releases neurotransmitters to the brain's thalamus, communicating with the …

People Are Now Taking Placebo Pills to Deal With Their Health Problems—And It’s Working

For over 20 years, Linda Buonanno lived in fear that her irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) would suddenly interrupt her daily routine with frequent trips to the bathroom and unbearable cramping. Buonanno, now a 71-year-old medical assistant and hairdresser from Methuen, Mass., tried everything from drugs to dairy-free diets. Nothing worked. She remembers a particularly tough period over 10 years ago, when she was working on the factory floor of a medical-device company for up to 10 hours a day, six days a week. When an IBS episode would strike, her co-workers would cover for her as she huddled in a corner, keeled over in pain. If she wanted to go dancing with friends at the local club on Sunday, Buonanno would stop eating on Friday so there wouldn’t be anything in her system to interrupt her plans. “It was a horrible way to live,” she says. One day in 2009, she saw a TV ad looking for people with IBS to enroll in a study. She signed up and was thrilled when she was among about 80 people selected to take part in a first-of-its-kind clinical trial.

On The Shoulders Of Giants, Part 2: Stewart Wolf And The Pharmacology Of Placebos

BY: PAUL ENCK & SIBYLLE KLOSTERHALFEN | DECEMBER 6, 2018 In comparison to Henry Beecher’s much-cited paper, “The Powerful placebo,” of 1955 (1), Stewart Wolf’s paper, “The pharmacology  of placebos,” of 1959 (2) is today almost forgotten; it came along less spectacularly but more scientifically solid, hiding its implicit provocation (there is a biology underlying the placebo effects) behind a seemingly …