Intended for healthcare professionals

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Views & Reviews

The thinking doctor’s guide to placebos

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 01 May 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1020

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I am thinking of setting myself up as a placebolotherapist: Placebolotherapy

The standard by which all other treatments are measured. At least as equally effective as all types of psychotherapy and all ‘alternative’ healthcare treatments. Treats physical health conditions and mental health problems (especially mood disorders). Evidence based. No spurious claims or pseudo scientific explanations. No reliance on ill-defined terms such as ‘energy’, ‘auras’, ‘crystal power’ or ‘spirituality’.

Placebolotherapy is not a replacement for any proven treatment, it is an enormously helpful adjunct.

The placebolotherapist spends an hour with the ‘patient’ in a pleasant room, giving them their full and undivided attention. They explain that what they are doing is backed up by rigorous scientific evidence, is extremely effective and that the patient will feel better afterwards.

That’s it.

£50.00 a session. Research into placebo shows that the more value the patient puts on it, the more effective it is. (A placebo injection is more effective than a placebo pill), so an expensive session will be more effective than a cheap one.

Or should I set myself up as a homeopathist?

Competing interests: I often use hot lemon cold cures

Competing interests: No competing interests

02 May 2008
Nick J Woodhead
Mental Health Act Coordination Manager
Mallard Court, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 4RN