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Towards Contemporary Neuroethics: Why Does It Make Sense to Re-define Placebo?


  • Niko Gorjup

    () (Department of Biophysics, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics - University of Maribor)

  • Rado Gorjup

    (Faculty of Education - University of Primorska)


The main message we are trying to get across throughout the article is that the placebo is not an inert entity but instead it has a potential of subjective interpretation, a healing potential of its own, over and above that of any healing potential of the medication per se. Such healing potential is greatly dependent on how strong the interpretation value in being healed is that is created by the doctor. In this regard, we are also arguing that there are myriads possibilities at work that can influence how strong this interpretation value can become. The crucial role of contemporary medicine should be to expand the use of these interpretation effects even more and use them to help reduce any negative mental states that could continue to suppress the immune system after the initial healing. In other words, medicine should use the power of interpretation effect not only to re-arouse the immune system temporarily but permanently. In order to achieve a complete process of permanent healing it is necessary to take advantage of making full use of the powerful interpretation value through psychosocial context. It is possible to do that beyond the usual "sugar pill" through evidence based approach - a science of compassionate care! By introducing the new operational placebo definitions, we clearly show that the human mind (unconscious and conscious) is an inevitable substance involved in the Healing Process. The terms "placebo", "placebo effect", and "placebo response" are re-defined into the new working definitions. We explain how there is no more distinction (duality) such as body / mind, specific / nonspecific or health / disease, which offers new insights for future directions in contemporary Neuroethics.

Suggested Citation

  • Niko Gorjup & Rado Gorjup, 2014. "Towards Contemporary Neuroethics: Why Does It Make Sense to Re-define Placebo?," Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems - scientific journal, Croatian Interdisciplinary Society Provider Homepage:, vol. 12(4), pages 334-342.
  • Handle: RePEc:zna:indecs:v:12:y:2014:i:4:p:334-342

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    placebo; bioelectromagnetics; evidence-based medicine; compassionate care; neuroethics;

    JEL classification:

    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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