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Reading List - Chapter 3: Belief

Placebo Effects: Understanding the mechanisms in health and disease, by Fabrizio Benedetti

One of the most widespread words in medicine is placebo and placebo effect, although it is not always clear what it means exactly. Recent progress in biomedical research has allowed a better clarification of the placebo effect. We know that this is an active psychobiological phenomenon which takes place in the patient's brain and that is capable of influencing both the course of a disease and the response to a therapy.

Since publication of the first edition of this book in 2008, there has been an explosion of placebo research, and this new edition brings the topic fully up to date. Throughout, the book emphasizes that there are many placebo effects and critically reviews them in different medical conditions, such as neurological and psychiatric disorders, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, immune and hormonal responses, as well as oncology, surgery, sports medicine and acupuncture. The psychosocial context around the patient is crucial to the placebo effect, for example the doctor's words and attitudes, and throughout this is considered.

Exhaustive in its coverage, and written by a world authority in the field, this is the definitive reference text to the placebo effect - one that is essential for researchers and clinicians across a wide range of medical specialities.

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Meaning, Medicine and the ‘Placebo Effect,’ by Daniel E Moerman

Traditionally, the effectiveness of medical treatments is attributed to specific elements, such as drugs or surgical procedures. However, many other factors can significantly effect the outcome. Drugs with nationally advertised names can work better than the same drug without the name. Inert drugs (placebos, dummies) often have dramatic effects on some patients and effects can vary greatly among different European countries where the "same" medical condition is understood differently. Daniel Moerman traverses a complex subject area in this detailed examination of medical variables. Since 1993, Cambridge Studies in Medical Anthropology has offered researchers and instructors monographs and edited collections of leading scholarship in one of the most lively and popular subfields of cultural and social anthropology. Beginning in 2002, the CSMA series presents theme booksworks that synthesize emerging scholarship from relatively new subfields or that reinterpret the literature of older ones. Designed as course material for advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and for professionals in related areas (physicians, nurses, public health workers, and medical sociologists), these theme books will demonstrate how work in medical anthropology is carried out and convey the importance of a given topic for a wide variety of readers. About 160 pages in length, the theme books are not simply staid reviews of the literature. They are, instead, new ways of conceptualizing topics in medical anthropology that take advantage of current research and the growing edges of the field.

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Counterclockwise: A Proven Way to Think Yourself Younger and Healthier, by Ellen J Langer

If we could turn back the clock psychologically, could we also turn it back physically? For more than thirty years, award-winning psychologist Ellen Langer has studied this provocative question, and now, in Counterclockwise, she presents a conclusive answer: opening our minds to what's possible, instead of clinging to notions about what's not, can lead to better health - at any age. Drawing on landmark work in the field and her own body of colourful and highly original experiments, Langer shows that the magic of rejuvenation and ongoing good health lies in being aware of the ways we mindlessly react to social and cultural cues. With only subtle shifts in our thinking, our language, and in our expectations, she tells us that we can begin to change the ingrained behaviour that sap health, optimism, and vitality from our lives. Immensely readable and truly fascinating, Counterclockwise offers a transformative and bold new paradigm: the psychology of possibility. A hopeful and groundbreaking book by an author who has changed how people all over the world think and feel. Counterclockwise is sure to become a standard source on new-century science and healing.

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