Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Shadow MedicineThe Placebo in Conventional and Alternative Therapies$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

John Haller

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231169042

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231169042.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 24 May 2022

“The Powerful Placebo”

“The Powerful Placebo”

(p.61) 3 “The Powerful Placebo”
Shadow Medicine

John S. Haller

Columbia University Press

This chapter studies the role of placebo in medicine. As a product of postmodernist medicine, the placebo had undermined the positivist model of biomedicine by interjecting subjectivity, uncertainty, and ambiguity into the clinical encounter. However, in the 1955 article, “The Powerful Placebo,” Henry Beecher suggested that placebos could work through physiological and biochemical mediators to the point of exceeding the effects of an active pharmacological drug, a hypothesis that challenged the very definition of the placebo as an unreal or inert identity. The advances in research regarding placebo led to the discovery of endorphins, which have opiate-like properties with the potential to alter pain perception, mood and respiration, and the identification of two specific factors that were deemed essential for its action: a suitable disease and a mutually supportive relationship between the physician and the patient.

Keywords:   placebo, postmodernist medicine, biomedicine, Henry Beecher, The Powerful Placebo, endorphins

Columbia Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .