Gary Greenberg, What if the Placebo Effect Isn’t a Trick? The New York Times, November 7, 2018
Do They Live up to the Hype?
The Chain of Office of the Dutch city of Leiden is a broad and colorful ceremonial necklace that, draped around the shoulders of Mayor Henri Lenferink, lends a magisterial air to official proceedings in this ancient university town. But whatever gravitas it provided Lenferink as he welcomed a group of researchers to his city, he was quick to undercut it. “I am just a humble historian,” he told the 300 members of the Society for Interdisciplinary Placebo Studies who had gathered in Leiden’s ornate municipal concert hall, “so I don’t know anything about your topic.” He was being a little disingenuous.
Through the WI Lens
New research is zeroing in on a biochemical basis for the placebo effect – the phenomenon whereby suffering people get better from treatments that have no discernible reason to work. With the help of functional magnetic resonance imaging (F.M.R.I.) and other precise surveillance techniques, some scientists are beginning to elucidate an ensemble of biochemical processes that may finally account for how placebos work and why they are more effective for some people, and some disorders, than others.
The list of conditions that respond to placebos as well as they do to drugs with some patients, is long and growing: depression, back pain, chemotherapy-related malaise, migraine, post-traumatic stress disorder… if placebo is really a powerful medical treatment that is ignored by doctors only at their patients’ expense, this might open a Pandora’s box for Western medicine.
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”
“All roads lead to a wellbeing anchor, whether that be economic/financial, physical, mental or emotional: all contribute to a progressive and inclusive cosmopolitan world. The answer should not be a choice of one or the other but of a joined up and compassionate solution for society, business and individuals.”
“The paradox is that we continue to do this in spite of recognising that striving to become ever-more productive is an intrinsically unhealthy behaviour, leading to stress and too often, a sense of failure.”
“The same broad-sweeping structural racism that enables police brutality against black Americans is also responsible for higher mortality among black Americans with Covid-19,” Maimuna Majumder, a Harvard epidemiologist working on the Covid-19 response, tells Vox.
The take-out from this? Wellbeing cannot exist at a more elevated level without our basic needs being met.
This is not the testimony of any ordinary victim of Covid-19, but that of virologist Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and one of the scientists who discovered Ebola back in 1976.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s star has risen …this article examines the style in which she’s done it.
Before Times and After Times. Is that how we’ll come to see the Covid-19 pandemic in the fullness of time?