Fear and Faith - a Channel 4 film by Darren Brown demonstrating the power of the 'placebo effect' The first part of a Channel 4 two-part event, Fear and Faith is an extraordinary film by Derren Brown looking at what happens when people have the experience of fear removed through the use of a powerful "new drug" [47 min 37 sec]

This link will take you to the YouTube website (embedding disabled). The demonstrations of the placebo effect in the film appear convincing, but it should be noted that this is a programme made to entertain as much as inform and the host, Derren Brown is a professional illusionist, mentalist, trickster, hypnotist, painter, writer, film maker, presenter and sceptic.
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Overcoming phobias - using the power of the ‘placebo effect’

Sometimes phobias, irrational or not, have to be faced up to. Doing so can be a mountain slope too steep to climb for some of us. Recognised self help treatments for overcoming phobias include: Lifestyle changes - regular exercise, regular meals, getting enough sleep and reducing / avoiding stimulants like coffee. Self exposure therapy - (de-sensitisation) gradually increasing exposure to a phobia. Relaxation and visualisation techniques. When exposed to a phobia try taking a placebo and reinforce your positive energies using some of the above techniques.

It's not uncommon for people with a phobia to suffer from panic attacks - these too can be helped by harnessing the power of the 'placebo effect'.

Social Anxiety Disorder and The Placebo Effect

A recent study by Mats Fredikson at Uppsala University Sweden, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, was conducted using sufferers of social anxiety disorder. A major symptom of social anxiety disorder is a fear of negative judgement by third parties. A classic example is that sufferers show a powerful fear of speaking in public.

Sufferers of social anxiety disorder were asked to take part in a stressful public speaking event. The subjects were prescribed a placebo for eight weeks and then asked again to speak at a similar event. 40% of the subjects treated with the placebo demonstrated significant improvement in their symptoms over the trial period.

psychologytoday.com - social anxiety disorder and the placebo effect

Subjects with a fear of flying treated with placebo demonstrate long term improvement

Research by the Stanford University School of Medicine demonstrated that anti-anxiety medication actually makes someone with a fear of flying more sensitive to flying (more likely to panic if not sufficiently medicated), and blocks de-sensitisation, making it less likely for an individual to become accustomed to flying.

The subjects of the research made two flights - the first where half the trial sample were given an anti anxiety pill (alprazolam - with side effects ranging from dizziness to hallucinations and aggression) the other half being given a placebo. On the second flight no medication was given. On the first flight 43% of the placebo group experienced some panic symptoms whereas the subjects who received the active medication did much better with only a few demonstrating displaying panic symptoms. Interestingly, on the second flight (where no medication was administered) only 29% of the placebo group experienced panic, from the group who received the active medication on the first flight 71% experienced panic. The placebo group experienced a significant de-sensitisation to their phobia.

FH Wilhelm, WT Roth - Stanford University - Acute and delayed effects of alprazolam on flight phobics during exposure

Disclaimer: The information concerning the use of placebos on the placebo-world.com website are not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship. Placebo World is not responsible for the content of third party websites.