Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Now, all my life I've wondered this. Why, when the solstice comes in late June, is the hottest part of the summer (in the Northern Hemisphere) late August? Sure, things take a while to warm up. But two months?

Just finished my first read of Daniel Moerman's Meaning, Medicine and the 'Placebo Effect'. First, because I knew within a few pages that I'll be reading it several times. I'm not ready to talk about it yet, but I'm starting to identify my ambition: it's to learn to mobilize (invoke? organize? release?) healing processes in the way that Shamanic rituals or Western surgical rituals do, without their deceptions and inflictions of injury.

It may be impossible: for the stories to be compelling they may have to be false, and for the rituals to be effective they may have to be genuinely risky. I don't know.

(For the obdurately mechanistic: I imagine that surgery sometimes works exactly as advertised. But I want someone to explain why sham surgery is also sometimes so effective, in the rare cases in which it's been allowed to take place; and if you are not going to allow “placebo” surgery you have to expect your results to be looked at skeptically by anyone with a genuine respect for science.)

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