Placebo: Mind Over Matter in Modern Medicine

Aug 20, 2017 by

 

Title: Placebo: Mind Over Matter in Modern Medicine
Authors: Dylan Evans
Year: 2004

Quick Summary:
This is a book that provides basically all of the information you could ever want to know about how placebos appear to work (or not work) and when they may prove useful, harmful, or absolutely pointless.

Highlights:
If you have ever wondered how the placebo effect works and how it plays into our own health and well-being, this book was written for you.  It covers all of the concepts that are commonly tossed around in relation to this topic, including the elusive nocebo effect.

Not only does this book cover the full range of questions that could be asked about placebos and when they are and are not useful to us, it also bases all of this information directly off of research.  In fact, it even dives into the history of this research, taking us on a journey through the different ways that the medical institution has perceived the placebo over the years, all due to the changing quality of the studies that have been done.  I thought I already knew a lot about the placebo effect and how it related to medication use, but I still learned a ridiculous amount from reading this book.

Lowlights:
The author appears to have intended for his audience to mostly include people that work in the fields of medicine and science.  If you enjoy an academic, high-level read, then you will probably greatly enjoy this book.  However, if you would prefer a more leisurely read, this may not be the book for you.

It is helpful that this book clocks in at only 240 pages, but it took me a bit of time to make it through – reading a chapter, then switching to a more pleasant book, then back, and so on.  But it was absolutely worth it if you can tolerate the writing style and don’t mind looking a few things up here and there.

Final Word:
If the placebo effect fascinates or mystifies you, this book will not disappoint.  Just be prepared to slog through some academic passages and high-level vocabulary, taking your time as you work your way through the entire volume.

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