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Sibylle Klosterhalfen

Sibylle Klosterhalfen is a researcher at the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

Big Pharma Is Not Innocent Of The Placebo Effect

We tend to attribute the placebo effect — and its recent rise in randomized placebo-controlled trials (1) — to changes in individual patient behavior, e.g. higher expectations toward the medical system and/or toward doctor behaviors when it comes to prescribing […]

To Use Or Not To Use The Term “Placebo,” That Is (Not) The Question

Placebos have been around forever, even if they were not named as such. Just think about the stone age, when healers operated with mostly, if not exclusively, placebos, but did not call them that. Today, the term is rather popular […]

Science Without Giants: What Drives Placebo Research Since The 1990s?

In previous postings, we have pushed some giants of placebo research off their column, or rather, jumped off their shoulders (to refer to Robert Merton’s allegory again), namely Henry K Beecher and Stewart Wolf. We have claimed that they cannot be made responsible […]

On The Shoulders Of Giants, Part 2: Stewart Wolf And The Pharmacology Of Placebos

In comparison to Henry Beecher’s much-cited paper, “The Powerful placebo,” of 1955 (1), Stewart Wolf’s paper, “The pharmacology  of placebos,” of 1959 (2) is today almost forgotten; it came along less spectacularly but more scientifically solid, hiding its implicit provocation (there […]

On The Shoulders Of Giants, Part 1: Henry K. Beecher And The Placebo Effect

When Robert Merton (1910 – 2003) dissected the allegory that we all are “standing on the shoulders of giants” — based on a much older saying by Bernhard of Chartres, according to John of Salisbury in 1159, often falsely attributed […]

Placebo Personalities: Fact, Fake, Fiction, Or A Bit Of Everything?

“Do placebo responders exist?” This is a question raised by many and answered by few (1). Are those who respond with symptom improvement after placebo applications, e.g. in a randomized, placebo-controlled drug trial (RCT), people that always respond the same […]

Of Kids And Cats: Placebo By Proxy

Treatment responses in (small) children are difficult to assess since descriptions of symptoms and symptom changes are not easily available without the use of language, e.g. in the case of pain and emotions. The same holds true for therapies in […]

The Holy Grail Of Placebo Research: A Single Gene – Or Many – In Control ?

Whenever new research tools become available, scientists get excited about new options to explore, new inventions to make, paradigms to shift, and to kick scientific “saints” off their columns — despite knowing that we all stand on the shoulders of […]

The Dark Side Of The Moon: Nocebo Effects In Medicine

In randomized, placebo-controlled drug trials, reports of adverse events (AE) are common. 40% or more of patients report such side effects, and in both the drug and placebo arms of the study; serious adverse events often lead to trial discontinuation. […]

Dodo Bird Meets Goldilocks: Psychotherapy And The Placebo Effect

In Alice in Wonderland (Chapter III, “A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale”), Alice viewed a race among all animals initiated by the Dodo bird. “… [A]s they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that […]