When one thinks of a doctor, words that might come to mind are prestige, hope, knowledge, and trust, among others. Trust is probably the most important of these and what we naturally feel, or at least should feel, in regards to our doctors. People (who are fortunate enough) go to their doctor when they are sick or just not feeling themselves with the confidence that the doctor will make things right again. We trust them with this, so of course most don’t even think twice when a doctor is taking tests from us, performing procedures, and prescribing a prescription, which just may be the most routine thing a doctor does.
When we are prescribed a medication, we expect to receive what we have been told we are receiving, but how can we really know? What is meant by this is that it has been brought to recent attention that some doctors are prescribing placebos without their patients knowledge, who believe they are receiving a drug that has the purpose of helping what is wrong with them, when in fact they could be taking a vitamin that hasn’t been proven to help their condition or nothing but a sugar pill. Firstly, lets define placebo, as this must be known to understand the issue. A placebo is simply the means that create the placebo effect, which is defined by the National Institutes of Health as, “a beneficial health outcome resulting from a person's anticipation that an intervention—pill, procedure, or injection, for example—will help them.” One would think that a placebo pill would simply be a sugar pill, which is certainly a placebo, but placebos can contain active ingredients. A placebo is really anything that is taken without the knowledge that it is not necessarily for ones condition. Another interesting fact about the placebo effect is that while it is primarily psychological, it can release actual physical responses as well; both of these effect having the potential to provide relief to the patient. The issue of doctors prescribing a placebo without the knowledge of the patient is relatively new to surface, yet doctors have been using placebos for many years. A study published in 2008 revealed just how frequent doctors prescribe placebos and their views on them in general. The study was conducted by the University of Chicago and showed that “almost half of the 231 respondents-45%-said they had prescribed placebos in regular clinical practice, and of all the physicians surveyed-whether or not they had prescribed placebos-96% believed that dummy pills could have real therapeutic effects” (Blue par. 3). This survey shows that a good amount of doctors have prescribed placebos, and just about all of the doctors believe that placebos can be effective. This is true as studies have been done to prove that in some cases placebos perform just as well if not better than actual medications, such as antidepressants. Over the past two decades, mental illness has been on the rise. “ Those who “qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) [for mental illness] has increased nearly two and a half times between 1987 and 2007—from one in 184 Americans to one in seventy-six” (Angell, par. 1). With more and more apparently suffering from mental illness, the most routine treatment has been psychoactive drugs, such as antipsychotics and antidepressants, while “talk therapy” has taken the sidelines. In fact, “about 10 percent of Americans over age six now take antidepressants” (Angell, par. 3), which is quite a large portion of the population relying on mind altering drugs.
It is extremely easy to receive