Prometheus von Cornsilk (kingnixon) wrote,
Prometheus von Cornsilk
kingnixon

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the drugs

http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2003/11/ma_565_01.html
antidepressents, according to this, are only about 2% more effective than placebo, which in realistic terms means they don't do shit. if this is true (and it does seem reasonable, but most things do), what then? specifically for me, do i stop taking cymbalta if it isn't really doing anything? well, if i was convinced that it wasn't, then probably yes. but even if it does squat, as long as i think it's doing something, then i am placeboing myself and still gaining benefit. so should i avoid reading about this topic, in case i learn or convince myself that it's useless? well, if it is placebo effect, then that means any benefit i've gained from it has actually come entirely from in me. learning that could be marvelously empowering. it could also be crap. i don't have even the slightest idea how to harness something like that, and knowing i have it in me but not being able to use it would be worse than zero.
conclusion? as per usual, my answer to almost every question i ask myself on this subject is: perhaps. and my solution to perhaps? stay the course. see what happens, see how i feel, see what the world tells me, don't change anything myself. how boring.

meanwhile, at the end of the article a really odd (and in hindsight, obvious) point is made: some people are more susceptable to the placebo effect than others. according to this, there may even be a biological basis for that (would this be a biological basis for lack of skepticism/pessimism in general? i wouldn't expect to find a ton of that in depressed people, but hey). i've wondered before if people shouldn't be prescribed placebos when better options aren't there, but this raises an even weirder question - what if, for certain people, placebos are the better option? if you can scan someone's brain and find which drug is likely to work best for them, and prescribe accordingly, what if the scan says placebos will work best? do you give them placebos? do you tell them? if someone is told "we are giving you sugar pills, which will have no physical effect on you. but our tests indicate that placebos will be very helpful and effective for you" will it still work? what if you said that, and then gave them a real drug anyway? would it work even better?
in conclusion, people are mysterious and nobody has any clue how we work. but generally, we do anyway, so i guess that's all right.

in other news, avocado is delicious. i recommend it with a little cheddar.
Tags: dan, links, philosophy
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