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We all know that when someone mentions pizza you suddenly feel hungry, even though you just ate an hour ago. This is one example of the power of mind over body, and has similarities with the placebo effect. Now, researchers have discovered that even when you know a drug you are taking doesn’t work, you will still feel relief. This has taken the placebo effect to a whole new level.
Graduate Scott Schafer has conducted studies in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience to further prove the placebo effect. Subjects were given a placebo treatment and conditioned to believe that it works. After four sessions, subjects were told that the treatment was false, but still reported that they were getting pain relief. Subjects who only had one session didn’t report continued pain relief.
He discovered that the placebo effect still works even if research participants know the treatment they are receiving to ease pain has no medical value whatsoever. These new findings could open doors to treating drug addiction and drug management when it comes to people who have undergone serious surgeries and are taking potentially addictive drugs.
“If a child has experience with a drug working, you could wean them off the drug, or switch that drug to a placebo, and have them continue taking it,” Schafer said.
All people need is ample time to believe a treatment works, then the placebo effect kicks in, and this study reveals that even when patients are told that the treatment is actually false, they still report pain relief.