The Primitive Mind and Modern Man

Indexed in: Scopus, EBSCO

This book is in the field of cultural anthropology and transcultural psychology, and is intended for college courses in anthropology and psychology, and general readership. The book focuses on ...
[view complete introduction]

US $

*(Excluding Mailing and Handling)

The Placebo Effect

Pp. 172-174 (3)

John Alan Cohan


The phenomenon of death by suggestion, so often seen in primitive cultures, is linked to the modern notion of the placebo effect. The role of suggestion in treatment-whether it is folk healing, shamanism, or other practices-cannot be underestimated. In the placebo effect, almost any treatment will work, though medically inert, so long as the patient is convinced that it has efficacy. The idea that a placebo pill will cure patients of illness is so well established a phenomenon that in clinical trials control groups receive a placebo to compare their outcome with those receiving the trial drug. The success rate of the placebo is in some cases as good as that of the genuine drug. Shamans, witch-doctors and folk healers often rely on the patient’s strong belief that the cure will be effective. The placebo effect may be an explanation for the apparently miraculous healings that sometimes occur through prayer or other religious practices.


Western State Law School USA.