Title: Meaning, Medicine and the Placebo Effect (2002)
Author: Daniel Moerman
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
In this book, an anthropologist offers an outsider’s view of medicine. The book is not restricted to an examination of the placebo effect (in fact, the author suggests abandoning the term, instead using “meaning response”); it asks readers to see all of medicine (and indeed biology) in its social and cultural context. The author shows that much of what we “know” isn’t necessarily true (or more confusingly, that it might be true in certain contexts). In that vein, he criticises doctors for dressing in science (empirical evidence), but practicing experiential evidence, and therefore not being able to see that what they “know” (based on tradition and their own experience) might not be true (despite being able to construct biological mechanisms to explain the perceived effect).