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April, 2013 Commentary Now Available

Posted Apr 02 2013 10:55am

The Placebo Effect and the Human-Animal Bond: When Nothing is Something

In an interesting about face, researchers increasingly turn their attention to the placebo effect. Nor do they approach the subject as science-based myth-busters seeking to prove such responses reside all in the patient’s head. Or rather, they do hope to prove this by proving that placebos can and do cause beneficial changes in the brain and, by extension, in the body. The difference now is that instead of associating those brain changes with easily duped feeble minds, they see these effects as a way to decrease and in some cases eliminate the need for more physiologically and financially costly conventional treatments.

Although I never felt comfortable admitting this in the past, I’ve always linked the human-animal bond and the placebo effect. I didn’t feel uncomfortable because I viewed any perceived bond effects as evidence of sloppy science or a phenomenon limited to the weak-minded. Quite the contrary, I saw both as long ignored concepts that play a critical role (for good or ill) in human and animal health and behavior.  Read more…

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