The Placebo Effect | Connecticut Public Radio

The Placebo Effect

Aug 31, 2020

Placebo treatments have been making people feel better since long before Franz Mesmer was run out of 18th-century Vienna for "mesmerizing" a young pianist into regaining her eyesight after doctors had given up on a medical cure. 

Doctors often dismiss the placebo effect as inferior to conventional medical treatments - even when studies show that placebos can reduce the pain of arthritic knees as well as in some surgical procedures like arthroscopy

The placebo effect is triggered not by a magic pill, but through a combination of expectation, hope, and the strength of the doctor-patient relationship. Placebo is real and can change the way we treat illness.


  • Gary Greenberg - Psychotherapist and the author of The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmasking of Psychiatry
  • Ted Kaptchuk - Professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Director, Program of Placebo Studies and Therapeutic Encounter at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital  
  • Bruce Moseley - Orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, former team physician to the Houston Rockets, first to perform placebo surgery

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Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.