Experimental research into placebo effects demonstrates that routine biomedical pharmacological and procedural interventions contain significant ritual dimensions. This research also suggests that ritual healing not only represents changes in effect, self-awareness, and self-appraisal of behavioral capacities but involves modulations of symptoms through neurobiological mechanisms. Recent scientific investigations into placebo acupuncture suggest several ways that observations from ritual studies can be verified experimentally. Placebo effects are often described as ‘non-specific’; the analysis presented here suggests that placebo effects are the ‘specific’ effects of healing rituals.
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