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Meaning, Medicine and the 'Placebo Effect' (Cambridge Studies in Medical Anthropology) Paperback – November 18, 2002

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521000871 ISBN-10: 9780521000871

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Meaning, Medicine and the 'Placebo Effect' (Cambridge Studies in Medical Anthropology) + Culture and Health: Applying Medical Anthropology + The Illness Narratives: Suffering, Healing, And The Human Condition
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Daniel Moerman's Meaning, Medicine and the 'Placebo Effect' is a lucid, accessible look at the power doctors have to restore patients to health with placebos." London Review of Books

"[A]n interesting exploration of the placebo effect.... Recommended." Choice

Book Description

Traditionally, the effectiveness of medical treatments is attributed to specific elements, such as drugs or surgical procedures, but many things happen in medicine which cannot be accounted for in this way. Drugs with widely advertised names can work better than the same drug without the name; inert drugs (placebos, dummies) often have dramatic effects on people; and effects can vary hugely among different European countries where the 'same' medical condition is understood differently. Daniel Moerman reviews these matters, guiding the reader expertly through a very complex body of literature.

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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Medical Anthropology (Book 9)
  • Paperback: 182 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (November 18, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780521000871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521000871
  • ASIN: 0521000874
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Barrett on March 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
As a family physician and behavioral scientist with strong interest in the "placebo effect", I can say without reservation that this is one of the best all-around reviews available. The "placebo paradox" has confounded reductionist thinkers for decades: if there is nothing in the pill, then how can it cause health effects? Dan Moerman doesn't have to take us far out of the conventional box to show that - of course - it isn't the inert pills, but instead the meanings attached with them that have influenced outcomes in so many scientific experiments. Meaning, belief and understanding govern how we think and feel, which in turn effect our physical and psychological health. Empty colored pills, sham surgery and suggestion lead to real health effects, even under the most rigorous of settings: randomized, double-blind, controlled trials. While reasonably comprehensive and highly accurate, this book is also accessible, as it is written with a style and flair that should prove attractive to most readers. Highly recommended it is!
Bruce Barrett MD PhD
Department of Family Medicine
University of Wisconsin - Madison
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By David J. Kreiter on December 24, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Daniel Moerman places the words "Placebo effect" in quotations because he believes that the placebo effect should be redefined. A placebo, he explains is inert. It has no causal effect. A more appropriate definition of the placebo effect he asserts is the "meaning response."

It is because of our beliefs and the meaning we assocate with a placebo that determines its effectiveness. Despite this simple formula for determining who will respond to a placebo, it is not a very good predictor for a given individual at a given time. Studies show that there is no method to determine which individuals will respond to a placebo. Attempts have been made to remove placebo responders from studies. Occasionally, researchers will conduct a precursor trial run with a completely unrelated substance to indentify those who might respond to a placebo in an effort to cull these responders from the "real study". These attempts have been futile.

No reliable indicators have ever been found that identify individual placebo responders. In fact, a person who responds to a placebo in one study has no increased likely hood of responding to a placebo in subsequent studies. More remarkably, if one eliminates the approximately one third of the populace who initially respond to a given placebo, the remaining group will contain about the same proportion of responders in subsequent studies.

Moerman never makes the connection between these facts and the parallels to natual physical laws at the quantum level. And though they might be only coincidental, I think it worth the comparisons.

Note that a placebo has no causal effect, but instead it is meaning that determines the "effect" of a placebo.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Jeanette Raymond on December 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A readable, evidence based account of the power of the placebo in all aspects of medical treatments. If insurance companies used this information health care costs would be minimized beyond belief and patient care would be more empowered. All medical interns and doctors should have this as required reading.

All patients should read this book before, during and after visits to doctors. Psychologists like myself get important reminders about the mind body drive towards health and need to be reminded of it.
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