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The nocebo effect

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Apotheosis

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When western anthropologists first heard reports of witch doctors who could issue deadly curses, they quickly found rational explanations. The families of the cursed often felt there was no point wasting food on the "walking dead", for example. That's why many of the cursed would die: simple starvation.

However, other case histories have come to light that defy attempts to explain them. In the 1970s, for example, doctors diagnosed a man with end-stage liver cancer, and told him he had just a few months to live. Though the patient died in the predicted time, an autopsy showed the doctors had been mistaken. There was a tiny tumour, but it had not spread. It seemed the doctors' prognosis had been a death curse.

Though the mechanism remains a mystery, but at least now this kind of phenomenon has a name. The "nocebo effect" is the lesser-known opposite number of the placebo effect, and describes any case where putting someone in a negative frame of mind has an adverse effect on their health or well-being. Tell people a medical procedure will be extremely painful, for example, and they will experience more pain than if you had kept the bad news to yourself. Similarly, experiences of side effects within the placebo groups of drug trials have shown that a doctor's warning about the possible side effects of a medicine makes it much more likely that the patient will report experiencing those effects.

This is not just in the mind: it is also about physical effects. The stress created by the nocebo effect can have a long-lasting impact on the heart, for example – perhaps serious enough to cause fatal damage.

The race is on to understand the precise mechanisms behind nocebo. Medical researchers are hoping that such an understanding will help to make the world a less stressful place. "It is a good way to understand anxiety, and to find methods to prevent it," says Fabrizio Benedetti of the University of Turin, Italy.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327247.100-13-more-things-the-nocebo-effect.html
 
Rorschach

Rorschach

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Do you know I mentioned the Nocebo effect as a neurochemical explanation with psychology as primary aetiology yesterday in my interview for that job (which I might add I didn't get!!!). I think some of the first people to discuss it in the case of medical anthropology were Hahn and Kleinman. Quite a few of our tutors last year worked with Kleinman at Harvard's Department of Global Health and Social Medicine.

I think that it is an interesting effect, which when considered psychosocially from the level of the individual explains neurochemical effect without need for biological or genetic defect/pathology...it's the solution I have ended up for the social/psychological contra biological causation of schizophrenia specifically. Interesting that you have brought it up Apo!!!
 
A

Apotheosis

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I think that it is an interesting effect, which when considered psychosocially from the level of the individual explains neurochemical effect without need for biological or genetic defect/pathology...it's the solution I have ended up for the social/psychological contra biological causation of schizophrenia specifically.
Could well be a part of things - I would reply more - but my brain isn't working at the moment; it has taken a holiday from itself.
 
Rorschach

Rorschach

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Could well be a part of things - I would reply more - but my brain isn't working at the moment; it has taken a holiday from itself.
No problem mate...when you're ready!!!
 
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