Understanding the Placebo Effect in Complementary Medicine: Theory, Practice, and Research

By David Peters | Go to book overview

6
Some reflections on creating
therapeutic consultations *
David Reilly
Lecture
Questions from the floor

Editor's note

David Reilly is a physician, a homeopath and hypnotherapist. He is also a leading medical innovator as well as a researcher and a teacher of holistic health care. In this chapter David reminds us that medicine mirrors the culture that spawns it; and in our society the mind-body split is a deep and tenacious assumption. Science deals with what is tangible and measurable and nowhere is its everyday impact on how we see ourselves greater than in medicine. But modern medicine, cautions Reilly, has become so terribly focused on the technical that a patient's humanity and the practitioner's character have disappeared from the equation, leaving only the medication and the disease. With reference to the placebo effect, for 'real' medicine, human-to-human aspects are ephemeral or worse, fraudulent. This notion, as it seeped into medical thinking and education, encouraged a culture that Reilly believes has been destructive or doctors' capacity to care. He wants to change that and here he tells us how. But he also warns that de-humanising processes can happen wherever purely technical aspects or practice are over-valued at the expense of the art of healing. Reilly says complementary therapies are not spared this danger and he unfolds a landscape where the therapeutic relationship can live alongside technical expertise. Giving us a glimpse into his own way of working with humour and language, he puts over a deeper message about the therapeutic power of compassion and empathy.


LECTURE

As I understand it, life is not yet understood. Indeed, it may even be a placebo response for all I know. It might not even be understandable, if I could radically put to us, by our minds. Because we do have limits. I've never met an ant with a PhD, for example, and there are no chimpanzees in this audience. Undoubtedly the life forms that we are sets limits. It may

____________________
*
This chapter is taken from a transcript of Dr Reilly's lecture with minimum editing leaving it in the reflective style of the talk.

-89-

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