I am thankful for things like wonder drugs and psychological research that leads to breakthroughs in treatment for stuff like obesity and alcoholism. Aren’t we all? However, as I was taking my Lunesta before bed last night, I began to pity those people who are recruited to take part in the studies that legitimize all of these medical wonder drugs. Because for every study, there has to be both a group of people who actually GET the drug, and a poor, downtrodden control group of sad sacks who only think they are getting the drug.
Whew. The poor folks in the control group hope against hope for a) a good night’s sleep, b) fewer pimples, c) increased libido and sexual potency, or d) things like a cure for cancer. They enter these studies with a stout heart and high hopes that they will experience some sort of life changing process that will lighten their loads, make them more energetic, or thin. You know. We all have hopes.
Of course, I am sure that participants in studies sign some sort of release that reminds them that they might be in the control group. They know that all the luckless people in the control group will get what is called a “placebo.”
Now, this isn’t all bad. It has been discovered by scientists (who all feel like God, I bet) that there is something positive about being in the control group, after all. This is something they dubbed “the placebo effect.” Apparently, the schlubs in the control groups sometimes have unforeseen positive results, despite the fact that they are just getting fake medicine. Their dandruff recedes. They lose weight, even though they are taking a sugar “diet” pill. They begin to fall asleep at night. Psychologists say that this is all evidence of the potent “power of suggestion,” that causes all of this.
I have never participated in an experiment, myself. But I find this very interesting. I must say that I am very happy, though, to hear about the placebo effect, because I really feel for those people in control groups everywhere. Thank goodness that there is a pay-off for you, too.
One more thing, for all of you control groupers: if you experience the “placebo effect” for longer than four hours, please call your doctor immediately. He will probably want to have what you are having…