* * Anonymous Doc

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Oh, I was having trouble sleeping, but then I started taking a sleeping pill every night before bed, and it's been great."

"What are you taking?"


"That's not a sleeping pill."


"It's for pain, fever, that kind of thing."

"Seems to put me to sleep."

"Well, if it's working for you..."



Presenting: The Placebo Effect.

It's hard to always wrap my head around it, but, more and more, I'm becoming convinced that it's really just as much about what patients think and expect and want to believe than what any particular medication is actually doing, especially for things like sleep, pain, and anxiety. They want to be heard, they want to be doing something they can believe is productive... and sometimes that's enough. The people who come in talking about herbs or teas or homeopathic remedies. The people who come in talking about how they take a quarter of the dose every day and it's enough. The people who suddenly get better once they have a label to put on whatever is bothering them. It's real. I think.


  1. The placebo effect is totally wild, I'm a little obsessed with how amazing the effect our brains have on the rest of our body. Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfRVCaA5o18 (even better that it's done with an Australian accent)

  2. your mind is a delusion generator and pretty damn effective one at that.

  3. Hey, as long as you're not escerewing proper medical care for it, then go for the placebo.

  4. Actually, one plain Tylenol is one of the best sleepers around! Commonly used in palliative care. Drops body temp a smidge, helps with body aches. Don't knock it!

  5. If the patient was taking the type of Tylenol that has an added antihistamine, it would help them sleep.

  6. Just now getting to the placebo effect as having some smidgen of truth to it in the middle of your second year? Can't wait for year three to unlock mysteries like this guy Pavlov and his dog...I don't want to ruin it.