I watched a number of the TED talks videos, mainly for fun, before I picked one to write about. I settled on one that dealt with the Placebo Effect. The TED Talk was actually by a magician, Eric Mead, who was fascinated with the similarities between magic and placebos and the effect that the mind has of turning something fake into something real.
This TED talk was slightly disappointing in the fact that it was mainly a magic show, and didn’t really delve into some of the really interesting aspects of the Placebo Effect. However, he did discuss some elements of the effect: different types of placebos have different results. Well, I shouldn’t say different “types,” because placebos are commonly just sugar solutions, but a more accurate description would be different appearances of the placebo. Mr. Mead describes how studies have shown that colored pills are more effective than white pills, pills with a letter are more effective than not, capsules are more effective than pills, and needles are more effective than capsules. The point of this being that the mind instills different qualities onto things that are pharmaceutically the same. (Just as the mind will believe a magic trick to be real until we see it explained to us.)
I’ve always had a fascination with the placebo effect because, for whatever reason, I feel as if I make use of it on a fairly regular basis, particularly when it comes to sickness. I made it through 3 years at Bucknell before I had to go to health services, and that was only because of a physical injury. I can’t remember the last time I’ve actually been sick, and the last time I remember having a cold was 2 years ago. I don’t think I’ve gotten a flu shot during my time at Bucknell, managed to avoid Swine ’09, and any random sicknesses that have swept through dorm halls. Granted, I probably owe much of this to a strong immune system. However, as years have gone by it seems that I’ve developed a skill of literally being able to make myself not get sick. On the rare occasion I wake up with a sore throat or start to feel that sinus-y feeling of a cold coming on, all I need to do is drink some Vitamin C or soup that day, and convince myself that I’m no longer sick, and I routinely wake up 100% the next day.
I’m waiting for all my good fortune to turn around and kick me in the ass one day, but at least for the time being I’m fully convinced in the legitimacy of the placebo effect.