Friday, July 26, 2013

I Need A Better Placebo

At times everyone wants to feel better.

If you don't like the way you feel at the moment and you want to improve on it some how, there are courses of action available.  Depending on circumstances (and availability) you could try eating chocolate, having sex, buying a pair of shoes, taking drugs or watching a funny movie, just to name the obvious solutions.  Listening to music (or composing it) is often my choice.

Not every remedy works in every case.  What's more, some remedies have side effects, often nasty ones.  These include weight gain, headaches, drowsiness or death.  Or something worse.

You can avoid dangerous side effects by taking a placebo - which is a treatment that does nothing but still works somehow.  That's because things often work just because people think that they work, even if those things don't actually work.  (I suppose religion could be a good example of a placebo.)

More remarkably, some placebos apparently work better than others.  Here's a list (from this site) of types of placebos roughly ranked by their effectiveness.
  • Placebo surgery works better than placebo injections
  • Placebo injections work better than placebo pills
  • Sham acupuncture treatment works better than a placebo pill
  • Capsules work better than tablets
  • Big pills work better than small
  • The more doses a day, the better
  • The more expensive, the better
  • The color of the pill makes a difference
  • Telling the patient, “This will relieve your pain” works better than saying “This might help.”

Why am I posting a short superficial essay about placebos, I hear you wonder.  Well, I was looking for a title for a new short piece of music (I call them 30 Second Spots).  The phrase "I need a better placebo" popped into my mind.  This seemed promising because I like titles which contain logical inconsistencies, for example This Is Not The Title.  The notion of a "better placebo" seemed pretty logically inconsistent - until I did a little surfing.  I found it surprising that people have studied the subject and discovered that some placebos are actually better than others.  Who knew?

Click here to hear I Need A Better Placebo © 2013 by David Ocker 40 seconds.   I hope it makes you feel better.

Placebo Tags: . . .

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