The Placebo Effect (at Science Based Medicine): While written a decade ago, this remains an excellent, thoughtful discussion of the Placebo Effect in clinical practice. Check the Comments as well as the post itself. An excerpt follows, but read the complete article, available at the link.
I do not feel that knowingly prescribing a placebo treatment is effective or ethical medicine. Modern scientific medicine should strive for interventions that physiologically are scientifically plausible and have sufficient evidence for safety and effectiveness. But I do think there are lessons to be learned from the placebo effect – there are aspects of therapy that do go beyond the physiological intervention. Medicine is not only an applied science; it is the art of humans treating other humans. As part of effective treatment it is helpful to try to maximize all those human intangibles that contribute to a good outcome. But we can do this in the context of scientifically valid treatment, and without crossing the ethically dubious line of deception
Originally posted January 19, 2008 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of AllanShowalter.com