Psychological Placebos: How the Brain Fakes It
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An unconnected mixer grinder won’t grind things, a broken lawnmower won’t cut grass, loose hinges of a chair might make you fall, and similarly fake medication shouldn’t be able to treat illnesses, but in case of the latter, it actually does. A phenomenon known as the placebo effect can make this happen! People who take a pill thinking it to be a painkiller feel relieved from the pain, even if the pill was just a sugar tablet. 

The brain, or rather the mind, plays a crucial role in the placebo effect. As said by Hippocrates, “I would rather know the person who has the disease than the disease the person has.” But placebo isn’t necessarily a pill – it could be the shirt you especially choose for an interview, a good-luck charm, a superstition, or just a belief. Sometimes simply talking to the doctor and developing a bond can also have a placebo effect. With no positive expectations, the placebo does not work and the nocebo effect takes precedence.

So, what exactly are psychological placebos? How do they highlight the unique mind-body relation? Can a patient with mere expectations of getting better change the brain’s response to pain? Are there some ethical concerns surrounding the use of placebos? Explore this interesting phenomenon in this module.

What if we are not as fair-minded as we think we are? What if we are actually prejudiced but are unaware of it?
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