An anthropological perspective on the placebo effectEt antropologisk perspektiv på placebo effekten
This article deals with a classical anthropological issue, the working mechanisms of rituals. It deals with the following questions: how is a healing ritual able to transform a sick person into a healthy person? What is it that makes the ritual work? And what is the relation between healing rituals and the placebo effect? From a phenomenological perspective and with a point of departure in MUS (medically unexplained symptoms) patients’ experiences of ‘bodily-lived-meaning’ in Danish healing rituals I try to develop an understanding of how bodily experienced images of body and self work to transform the patient during a healing ritual, of the process of a bodily founded symbolic ‘re-editing’ of body- and self-image, which I argue is a fundamental art in healing rituals. In conclusion I argue that the placebo is nothing but the effectiveness of bodily sensed symbols.
Anthropology and Medicine, 2012, Vol 19, Issue 3, p. 327-338