#351 – Exploring The Placebo Response with Jungian Analyst Richard Kradin, MD

Richard Kradin

Transcript

Richard Kradin MD is a research immunologist, Jungian analyst, former Research Director of the Harvard Medical School Mind/Body Medical Institute, and author of The Placebo Response. He is an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, and teaches at Pacifica Graduate Institute.

Dr. Kradin is also the author of a number of books, including The Placebo Response and The Power of Unconscious Healing.



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5 Comments

  1. Louise
    Posted May 23, 2013 at 4:29 am | Permalink

    This has been one of my favorite interviews so far. The function of placebo has fascinated me for years. This is also a great episode about placebos http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/allinthemind/antidepressants-placebo-and-medicalising-mood/3140064

    I liked how Richard went into some of the mechanics of the action of placebo because it has always struck me as an area where more research needs to be done. He really did present his information very clearly and in an informed and considered way.

    I might have to get his book once I get though all the other great stuff Dr D has put me onto.

  2. gloria
    Posted May 25, 2013 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    What a fascinating interview. I was particularly interested in the link between the placebo response and attachment theory. I hadn’t come across it before but it certainly makes sense in terms of my own personal experiences and observations. Richard says: ‘…there is an important link between early attachment and the type of attachment, whether optimal or dysfunctional and the ability to eventually, or later on in life, develop placebo responses.’

    Regarding the knee arthroscopy (this is what they are called in Australia), I had a very interesting experience a few years ago. I’d done a lot of physical activity in both work and play over my 50 years at the time and one of my knees was playing up. I had the surgery, which apparently was fine but the recovery period was so protracted that I wondered about the wisdom of having it done. Some time later my other knee began to hurt and it gradually worsened. I resigned myself to the thought that I would have to eventually have that one done too but resolved to postpone it as long as possible.

    In the meantime, I read about the very study that Richard refers to here (James Alexander mentioned it in his Shrink Rap Radio interview too) and began to wonder about having it done at all. I must say, I didn’t read the original study and wondered if it was really true as I couldn’t imagine that kind of thing getting past an ethics committee but seems like it really did.

    Now, my knee was so bad that I never went for even a half hour walk without a knee brace and restricted myself to a once a year trek up my favourite hiking trail. One year I did the trek and when I was talking about it to a friend she wanted to go and though I was concerned about doing it again so soon because of the knee, I allowed myself to be talked into it. We did the hike and during the process I dropped my camera and had to clamber down some quite steep rocky terrain to retrieve it, worrying all the time about this darned knee.

    I didn’t have any immediate repercussions though and after some time I noticed that my knee felt better and gradually I began leaving off the knee brace. I wondered if I had inadvertently corrected the problem somehow during the trek. Then one night I had a dream in which I was sitting opposite my deceased mother and she had her hand under the table and was digging her fingers into my problem knee. It was hurting so much that I was yelling at her to stop but she wouldn’t and just kept smiling at me. My knee never hurt again and when I looked back over the time it had been a problem, I figured it had been at least 3 years.

    That incident was 4 years ago and my knee has been good ever since, apart from when I twisted it during the time I was moving house and getting up and down ladders constantly in the cleaning process. It settled down within a very short space of time after the move was settled.

    I’m not 100% sure what happened but I have my theory from a psychological point of view. In hearing Richard’s thoughts, I suspect strongly that it was a placebo response. I don’t think my mother’s action in the dream actually healed it because it was already on the mend but I would say that I probably needed some kind of affirmation and the dream provided that.

  3. Posted May 25, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Gloria’s story about her dream and the healing of her knee reminds me of a similar story of my own. I can’t remember if I ever shared this on one of the Shrink Rap Radio episodes or not. I think I probably did on one of the ones about dreams. At any rate, this relates to one of my Big Dreams.

    Many years ago when I was very active, first in mountain biking and then later in road biking, I was wanting to challenge myself by riding a century, which is to say 100 miles. However, I was feeling reluctant to take it on because of chronic neck pain. Leaning over the bike and having to support one’s head in an unusual position as is required by a racing bike put a lot of strain on my neck. My neck would tend to get very tired and sore after a relatively short period on the bike. One night I had a dream that felt very special. There was a numinous quality to the dream that let me know as soon as I woke up that I had had what Jung refers to as a Big Dream. I dreamt that I had gone to visit a woman healer, a chiropractor, who in my dream journal I referred to as a chiropractress. In the dream, she hands me a small bowl and a kind of multicolored cyclone rises out of the bowl up into the sky and as I tilt the bowl one way or another, I can kind of shift this rainbow cyclone around the sky. It’s very magical feeling. The chiropractress says to me “accept your healing”. A few days later, I woke up one morning and just had this feeling that today is the day. I had a little monitor on the bike that could tell me my mileage. So I just set out toward the coast and then up the coast until I had ridden 50 miles and then I rode back another 50. I felt pretty beat up after the long ride and my neck was hurting somewhat and I thought, “oh, now I’ve done it.” But the next morning I felt fine. I really felt that the dream was telling me to have faith that my problem would not impede my ride and to just go ahead and do it. I think this stands out as one of the signature events in my life.

  4. gloria
    Posted May 26, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    David that was an awesome dream and certainly qualifies as a big dream especially because of the archetypal nature of the woman. The chiropractress immediately brought to mind the High Priestess in the Tarot, as this is so topical on SSR at the moment.

    I think when this kind of dream re-emerges there is also a message for the present and when it is shared openly it is a message for all who hear it. ‘Accept your healing’ is such a potent message and if you look at the root of the word healing, it means wholeness, or even holiness. So much of what holds us back from doing what we want to do are beliefs about deservedness, or worthiness, or not having the right to… fill in the blank. Having difficulty holding your head up is a beautiful metaphor for such beliefs.

    I’m wondering – were you around 50 when you had the dream and is it saying you will live to 100?

    I love that ‘knowing’ that you had. When we get such clear guidance that it doesn’t even occur to us to not follow it it is magical indeed. David Sowerby referred to this kind of knowing and how important it is to follow it.

  5. Posted May 27, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Gloria, I appreciate your amplification of my dream. And I like the way that you have moved it beyond my person and taken it in for yourself. It would be wonderful if others were able to do the same. I believe the phrase, accept your healing, is one I heard growing up much of the time with my grandparents who were evangelists and believed in divine healing. I’m not certain but I think that was a phrase that they used. While I was skeptical about that sort of thing as a child it seems to have taken root in a different sort of way in my psyche. And yes, I believe I was somewhere around my early 50s at the time of the dream and the hundred mile bicycle ride. It had not occurred to me that the dream might suggest another hundred years to go. Thanks for that gift! :-)

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