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The Ethics of Placebo and Nocebo in Psychotherapy


Gaab, Jens; Locher, Cosima; Trachsel, Manuel (2021). The Ethics of Placebo and Nocebo in Psychotherapy. In: Trachsel, Manuel; Gaab, Jens; Biller-Andorno, Nikola; Tekin, Şerife; Sadler, John Z. The Oxford Handbook of Psychotherapy Ethics / Online 2021. Oxford: Oxford University Press, online.

Abstract

There is as little doubt as much as there is empirical proof that psychotherapy is an effective intervention for psychological problems and disorders. However, there is ongoing controversy about the mechanisms underlying these often impressive, but also often overestimated effects, reaching back to the very origins of psychotherapy research. While this “great psychotherapy debate” vivifies both psychotherapy research and practice, it finally poses an ethical challenge for both psychotherapists and psychotherapy scholars. Basically, the lack of agreed and validated mechanisms impedes the attempt to inform patients about how changes of psychotherapy are brought about. Thus, even though patients can readily be furnished with possible and expectable benefits, costs and strains, the situation becomes more complex and less certain with regard to the specific mechanisms and determinants of change. In this chapter, psychotherapy scholars’ strivings and troubles for specificity will be briefly covered, touching the uncomfortable relationship with placebo and nocebo and finishing with an ethical plea for transparency in psychotherapy and of psychotherapists.

Abstract

There is as little doubt as much as there is empirical proof that psychotherapy is an effective intervention for psychological problems and disorders. However, there is ongoing controversy about the mechanisms underlying these often impressive, but also often overestimated effects, reaching back to the very origins of psychotherapy research. While this “great psychotherapy debate” vivifies both psychotherapy research and practice, it finally poses an ethical challenge for both psychotherapists and psychotherapy scholars. Basically, the lack of agreed and validated mechanisms impedes the attempt to inform patients about how changes of psychotherapy are brought about. Thus, even though patients can readily be furnished with possible and expectable benefits, costs and strains, the situation becomes more complex and less certain with regard to the specific mechanisms and determinants of change. In this chapter, psychotherapy scholars’ strivings and troubles for specificity will be briefly covered, touching the uncomfortable relationship with placebo and nocebo and finishing with an ethical plea for transparency in psychotherapy and of psychotherapists.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, not_refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2021
Deposited On:09 Feb 2021 10:44
Last Modified:09 Feb 2021 10:48
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISBN:9780198817338
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198817338.013.32

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