Placebos are allegedly used widely in general practice. Surveys reporting high level usage, however, have combined two categories, ‘pure’ and ‘impure’ placebos. The wide use of placebos is explained by the high level usage of impure placebos. In contrast, the prevalence of the use of pure placebos has been low. Traditional pure placebos are clinically ineffective treatments, whereas impure placebos form an ambiguous group of diverse treatments that are not always ineffective. In this paper, we focus on the impure placebo (...) concept and demonstrate problems related to it. We also show that the common examples of impure placebos are not meaningful from the point of view of clinical practice. We conclude that the impure placebo is a scientifically misleading concept and should not be used in scientific or medical literature. The issues behind the concept, however, deserve serious attention in future research. (shrink)
Doctor-patient interaction has gained increasing attention among sociologists and linguists during the last few decades. The problem with the studies performed so far, however, has been a lack of a theoretical framework which could bring together the various phenomena observed within medical consultations. Mikhail Bakhtin's philosophy of language offers us tools for studying medical practice as socio-cultural semiotic phenomenon. Applying Bakhtin's ideas of polyphonic, context-dependent and open-ended nature of human communication opens the possibilities to develop prevailing theoretical and empirical approaches (...) to the study of medical consultations. (shrink)
This text offers a concise explanation of how philosophical concepts underpin much medical activity, and how being aware of this can improve everyday practice. It is not a basic introduction to philosophy, but restricts itself to those aspects that have a direct impact on medical professionals.