Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Derren Brown Part 1- Placebo Effect

In this post and the next I am exploring Derren Brown’s ‘Fear and Faith’ shows. I am looking at part 1, ‘fear’ which examines the placebo effect. The first show was broadcasted on Friday 9th November, apologies for time delay. The shows are still on 4oD if you wish to watch them. 

In the programme, at first Derren Brown reveals a drug ‘Rumyodin’ that inhibits fear; it had been used within the U.S army and now they had the permission to use the drug on a clinical level for a select few members of the public. After several minutes he reveals that it is in fact a fake, the drug does not exist and it is simply an elaborate façade for a placebo pill. Derren cleverly created the name ‘Rumyodin’ which is actually an anagram of ‘your mind.' After this it shows Derren leading several people into Cicero’s (the fake company) medical centre and the placebo effect has already begun with the professionalism of the trials and the medical centre.

The placebo effect is strengthened by many factors; the first administration of the drug was in the form of an injection (just a saline solution) which has a higher influence on people in comparison to other methods of administration. It was further strengthened by the doctors telling them that they may experience effects immediately after the injection- their experiences correlated with the suggestion of possible effects. As well as this injection the patients took pills, the placebo effect has been noted to be more effective when taking large pills. Interestingly the colour of the pill can affect the results and certain colours are more effective to treat different ailments and injuries.

There are many mysteries surrounding the placebo effect and how it works. After Christmas I will explore these mysteries and also look at the so called "Nocebo" effect.

The show presents the miraculous curing of individuals, for obvious reasons this show has to appeal in a shocking way to attract people and it is quite clear that the individuals were carefully chosen to maximise the placebo effect. Despite this it was a rather interesting piece exploring the placebo effect and clearly shows the effect in action.     

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