Addicted To A Placebo

Addicted To A Placebo

Did you know that people can be addicted to a placebo?


Placebos are fake treatments given to people–and they sometimes work as well or better than the “real thing.” When drugs are tested, they’re typically tested against a placebo to show that they’re more effective. (The way drug companies manipulate these results is another story.)

I’ve always been fascinated by the power of placebos. The video below highlights some of the more interesting and puzzling findings about them.

Is Hypnosis Just A Placebo?

The research I’ve seen indicates that while hypnosis may be related to the placebo effect and includes the placebo effect, it’s not only the placebo effect. For instance, a study published in Contemporary Hypnosis found that hypnotism was almost twice as effective as placebo (Contemporary Hypnosis, 26(2): 93-110, 2009).

Of course every treatment includes the placebo effect. Since every treatment does, what can we do to magnify the placebo effects in order to help people heal more quickly and fully? It brings up some interesting moral issues, doesn’t it?


About The Author:

Keith Livingston is the main instructor for Hypnosis 101. Keith has been studying hypnosis since he was a boy and doing hypnosis & NLP training since 1997.

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  1. “Our minds create the medicine.”

    Yep. The expectation of anything makes it more likely to happen. Some people think this is about reality. Others think it’s about our perception of reality. And I wonder where we might find the dividing line, when it’s at home. 🙂

    How I wish the medical profession would take this to heart. I saw a program on the placebo knee surgeries some years back that had such marvelous results. The doctor who performed them said the results sort of blew his whole medical education–in fact the entire practice of medicine–right out of the water. Everything needed to be rethought now, he said. But I’m not sure that idea trickled down very well. I’m pretty sure most people in the profession have no idea those surgeries even took place.

    1. Well said Bridget.

      It’s clear that the medical profession is a mixed bag. There’s not that much of modern healthcare that’s scientifically based, believe it or not. Well-meaning doctors make the same cognitive errors “normal” people do. Plus, they’ve got a lot of big money trying to make sure they see things a certain way. And I think it’s important to recognize that the AMA is an organization that lobbies on the behalf of the medical profession–not the general public. I agree, I don’t think most people are aware of the placebo surgery study. And I don’t think most people are aware of where the U.S. ranks in terms of healthcare and mortality.


  2. I tend to believe there is no reality beyond our perception of reality. If a tree falls in a forest, and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound? I say no. If no one is there to hear the tree fall, there is no one there to even create the forest; it doesn’t exist. That’s all fun philosophy to ponder. And it does explain the placebo effect. But, hard to prove one way or the other.

    But what has been proven is the ability of our minds to dramatically alter our ‘reality’, or at least the experience of our perceived reality. A study published by JAMA in 2010 found that depression medications are little better than placebos for all but the most severe depression (see summary at

    Several studies have found that people who had depression and heart disease (and/or diabetes) had half the medical cost for the treatment of their heart disease when they had their depression treated as those who had heart disease but did not have treatment for their depression. (see,

  3. Our mind is the drug store! What do you want to fix you can. Whatever you want to fail it will.
    We bring it own to our selves.

    1. Hi Karl,
      I agree that our mind is remarkable and is capable of doing many things for us–for more than most people are aware of. But you can not fix anything through hypnosis and the power of the mind. You can’t.

      Keith Livingston

  4. I feared dentists or rather the pain I felt there so I rarely went.
    One time I had a severe toothache so I went.
    None of the injectionsmade any difference.
    Then he told me that I needed multiple procedures.
    By then my hands and arms were also getting sore from my death grip on the chair´s arms.
    I realized that anything he did from then on would not make any difference since the pain was already at the maximum level. So I said that I had $100.00 and to do as much right away as that amount covered and that I would not be back.
    Immediately all pain completely disappeared. I had dropped resistance.
    Later I learned about the law of attraction as taught by Esther Hicks and it all started to make sense. I guess one could call it self hypnosis but a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

  5. Keith,

    I believe that there is a fine line, in medical and subconscious impacts. Our minds and subconscious is very powerful indeed and can accomplish pretty amazing things with the right access and communications with it. There is a balance that must be achieved in order to get the highest possible advantage. Great article and observations, we simply need to be mindful of how to achieve our greatest potential. A long while ago I read some research where a person with multiple personality disorder had a very interesting medical impact. One personality had diabetes Type 1 and required insulin. The other personality did not. This finding was exceptionally interesting as they could not find how one personality would or would not control the physiology of the pancreas’s production of adequate insulin and the other other would not, from standard medical knowledge. Obviously, in this case, the subconscious mind had control in one personality and not with the other. There are obviously more questions than answers and any model of understanding developed wouldn’t necessarily apply to everyone. The same is true in cases of spontaneous telekinesis events that have occurred in isolated situations.

    The more we explore the more we will understand.

    – rob

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