The Pros and Cons of Placebos

Arguments For Placebos:

  • Mind over matter. The body has powerful, natural recuperative abilities and a placebo could help facilitate this.
  • Acts as a psychological boost, that a person's positive attitude may be important in recovery from illness.
  • The placebo effect may be a measurement of changed behavior affected by a belief in the treatment.

Arguments Against Placebos:

Placebo-related changes could be over-estimated because:

  • With chronic pain conditions or mood disorders, patients may show spontaneous improvement.
  • Placebo effects can result from contact with doctors, perhaps a diagnosis or simple attention from a respected professional alleviates anxiety.
  • The patient, in order to please the doctor, might report benefit when no benefit has occurred. In other words, the "politeness effect."