Synesthesia describes the experience that some people have, where the stimulation of one sense results in other senses being stimulated. For example words take on different colours and may create a sensation of certain smells. A recent study by Milán et al. (2012) found that many psychic healers who claim to see the aura of their patients are actually synesthetes. This condition would explain why they think they may be able to heal people, however it doesn’t explain why seeing an aura would lead to healing. The occasional success of psychic healing may be explained in terms of a placebo effect.
Posts tagged with placebo
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has been arguing in favour of ECT as a safe treatment for severe mental illness, according to a short piece in the current issue of the BPS magazine The Psychologist. The APA claims that ECT is effective 80% of the time and there is no evidence for any associated brain damage.
On the other hand a recent review by Bentall and Read (2010, see here) concluded that any benefits of ECT, when they arise, are minimal, short-lived and come with a significant risk of memory impairment and a slight risk of death. This conclusion was based on a review of studies over the last 60 years where the use of ECT for depression or schizophrenia was compared to a placebo control procedure. Bentall and Read’s final word is that the evidence is so poor that it’s use cannot be scientifically-justified.
October 17, 2009 by Adrian Frost.