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Re: Norman Cousins on Placebos Paige

Posted by Jane D on May 27, 2001, at 11:11:08

In reply to Re: Norman Cousins on Placebos Jane D, posted by Paige on May 27, 2001, at 7:02:22

> > >
> > >
> Hi jane,
> I think the most profound comment that remained
> in my mind regarding Norman Cousins was his
> statement that we tend to separate the mind and
> the body an they are both run by the same blood
> stream.
> I wouldn't say his book is gospel, but in 1979 when it was
> written I would to venture say there was not a whole
> lot of interest in his alternative based thinking
> and way of healing. Maybe in the 60s, but certainly not
> approaching the 80s.


That's part of what I found interesting. I really can't believe I never read it before. I kept realizing that this was the book that had influenced all these other people that I've read. I'm sorry if I seemed too critical. I really was greatful for the recommendation. I'm still in the middle of the book and finding it very hard to keep in mind both what we know today and what we knew then.

> Not being an avid reader of NEJM and being just
> a lay person with depression, my offerings are
> minimal at best, but it was a thought that dawned
> on me. In college I did a term on the Placebo
> Effect for my Psych class and Cousins was just
> the tip of the iceberg upon my research. There
> were thousands of cases of placebo response and
> also non-placebo. The most fascinating to me was
> sham surgery with heart patients. The list goes on.

I've always thought the idea of placebos would be interesting to read up on but never followed through. I'm not a medical journal reader either but the word placebo caught my eye. I really think I want to learn more. Any other suggestions? I remember sham surgery was controversial because it wasn't entirely harmless (anesthesia). Cousins specifically talks about the ideal placebo that is completely harmless.

I do wonder if antidepressants sometimes get prescribed by doctors to patients who don't need them with the mistaken idea that they are that ideal harmless placebo. People have posted here that they were prescribed antidepressants for very minor reasons. They are outraged at any side effects that they experience and I think they have a point. I wonder too if I accidentally mislead my doctor. I rarely report side effects because I think it goes without saying that I experience more good than harm. Maybe it should be said. Maybe I should try to make sure that my doctor doesn't think that "no important side effects to me when compared to my life without drugs" really means "no side effects at all when prescribed to anybody" and then go merrily prescribing the same thing for everyone who walks in the door.

> I think our minds have powerful input over every aspect
> of our bodies and certainly our way of thinking.

And vice versa. I think we now accept this as a given compared to 1979. Cousins probably has something to do with that.





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