Yesterday’s Thoughts

August 23, 2005

Physical or …. What?

The New Scientist reports new research on placebos. The results of the research that they report suggest that the placebo effect is mediated by opiods in the body. The New Scientist seems to be impressed with the wrong part of the research. Here is their opening paragraph.

It seems that placebos have a real physical, not imagined, effect – activating the production of chemicals in the brain that relieve pain, a new study suggests.

In the next paragraph, they say of the placebo effect, that it “has normally been considered psychological.”

What distinction are they imagining here? Was the New Scientist under the impression that thoughts were some sort of non-physical spiritual emanations?

My imaginings exist in my brain as real physical and chemical phenomena. They aren’t some non-physical other. My psychology is mediated by my neurochemistry. They aren’t separable entities.

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