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安慰剂效应的作用

The power of the placebo effect - Emma Bryce

1996年 56个志愿者参加了一项研究
In 1996, 56 volunteers took part in a study
测试一种名叫Trivaricaine的止痛药
to test a new painkiller called Trivaricaine.
每个实验对象的一个食指涂上这个新型止痛药
On each subject, one index finger was covered in the new painkiller
另一个食指保持原样然后
while the other remained untouched.
两个食指都用钳子使劲夹住
Then, both were squeezed in painful clamps.
实验对象都表示那个涂了药的食指没有另一只疼
The subjects reported that the treated finger hurt less than the untreated one.
这本应该没什么好惊讶的
This shouldn’t be surprising,
除了Trivaricaine本身并不是一种止痛药以外
except Trivaricaine wasn’t actually a painkiller,
只是一个假的混合物没有任何缓解疼痛的成分
just a fake concotion with no pain-easing properties at all.
是什么让这些学生坚信这个假冒的药有效的呢
What made the students so sure this dummy drug had worked?
答案就是安慰剂效应
The answer lies in the placebo effect,
一种至今原因不明的现象
an unexplained phenomenon
发生在使用那些本应该没有效果的药物 手术和治疗上
wherein drugs, treatments, and therapies that aren’t supposed to have an effect,
一般都是假的
and are often fake,
却奇迹般地使人们感到好转
miraculously make people feel better.
医生们从18世纪开始使用安慰剂这个术语
Doctors have used the term placebo since the 1700s
那时他们开始意识到假药的作用能够改善病人的症状
when they realized the power of fake drugs to improve people’s symptoms.
当合适的药品短缺时他们会使用这种治疗方法
These were administered when proper drugs weren’t available,
或者有些人幻想自己生病的时候实际上
or if someone imagined they were ill.
安慰剂这个词在拉丁语里是“我会好起来”的意思
In fact, the word placebo means “I shall please” in Latin,
暗示着安抚受病痛折磨的病人已有一段历史
hinting at a history of placating troubled patients.
安慰剂要模仿真正的治疗以达到使人信服的目的
Placebos had to mimic the real treatments in order to be convincing,
所以他们选择糖丸
so they took the form of sugar pills,
注射水
water-filled injections,
甚至假手术的形式很快
and even sham surgeries.
医生意识到这样蒙骗人们还有另一种用途
Soon, doctors realized that duping people in this way had another use:
用于临床试验
in clinical trials.
直到二十世纪五十年代研究人员将安慰剂作为一种标准工具
By the 1950s, researchers were using placebos as a standard tool
来测试新的治疗方法例如
to test new treatments.
测试一种新药
To evaluate a new drug, for instance,
一半的临床病人可能会服用真的药丸
half the patients in a trial might receive the real pill.
另一半则会服用看起来一模一样的安慰剂
The other half would get a placebo that looked the same.
药丸病人并不知道他们服用的是真的药还是个没用的因此
Since patients wouldn’t know whether they’d received the real thing or a dud,
研究人员相信
the results wouldn’t be biased,
结果是准确的于是
researchers believed.
如果这种新药比起安慰剂对病人有很明显的改善
Then, if the new drug showed a significant benefit compared to the placebo,
那么这种新药就是有效的如今
it was proved effective.
通过安慰剂的这种方法已经不常见了因为涉及到道德问题
Nowadays, it’s less common to use placebos this way because of ethical concerns.
只要能够将新药和以前的药
If it’s possible to compare a new drug against an older version,
或者其他存在的药对比
or another existing drug,
就比完全不给病人提供治疗要好
that’s preferable to simply giving someone no treatment at all,
尤其是病人患有十分严重的疾病时
especially if they have a serious ailment.
在这些情况下安慰剂常用于控制变量来微调试验
In these cases, placebos are often used as a control to fine-tune the trial
这样新药的效果能够与以前的药或者其他代替药
so that the effects of the new versus the old or alternative drug
更准确的比较当然
can be precisely compared.
我们知道安慰剂也发挥着其自身的作用
But of course, we know the placebos exert their own influence, too.
多亏了安慰剂效应
Thanks to the placebo effect,
很多病的病人病情得到缓解
patients have experienced relief from a range of ailments,
包括心脏问题
including heart problems,
哮喘
asthma,
还有剧痛
and severe pain,
及时他们只是服用了假药或者经历了假手术
even though all they’d received was a fake drug or sham surgery.
我们仍在尝试去理解其背后的原因
We’re still trying to understand how.
有些人认为 安慰剂效果都不是真的
Some believe that instead of being real,
仅仅是被其他因素所迷惑了
the placebo effect is merely confused with other factors,
只是病人为了取悦医生而错误地报告病情
like patients trying to please doctors by falsely reporting improvements.
另一方面
On the other hand,
研究人员认为如果一个人相信假药的可行性
researchers think that if a person believes a fake treatment is real,
他们的对康复的期待程度才是触发心理因素的关键
their expectations of recovery actually do trigger physiological factors
是改善病症的关键
that improve their symptoms.
安慰剂看起来是可以对血压
Placebos seem to be capable of causing measurable change in blood pressure,
心率
heart rate,
以及减轻痛觉的化学物质的释放有显著作用的
and the release of pain-reducing chemicals, like endorphins.
就像安多芬这也解释了为什么实验对象在痛觉研究时经常感觉安慰剂缓解了他们的不适
That explains why subjects in pain studies often say placebos ease their discomfort.
安慰剂甚至能够降低应激激素水平
Placebos may even reduce levels of stress hormones,
如肾上腺素
like adrenaline,
它是可以缓解病症不良反应的
which can slow the harmful effects of an ailment.
所以我们应不应该庆幸安慰剂的神奇功效呢
So shouldn’t we celebrate the placebo’s bizarre benefits?
不一定
Not necessarily.
如果有的人相信假的治疗方法可以治愈他们
If somebody believes a fake treatment has cured them,
他们可能会忽略真正被证明有效的药物和治疗另外
they may miss out on drugs or therapies that are proven to work.
这些有效的作用可能会随着时间的流逝而消失
Plus, the positive effects may fade over time,
而且普遍都是
and often do.
安慰剂总是影响诊断结果
Placebos also cloud clinical results,
使得科学家们更有动力研究
making scientists even more motivated to discover
安慰剂是如何产生如此巨大影响的
how they wield such power over us.
尽管我们了解人体的各个方面
Despite everything we know about the human body,
但仍有很多奇怪的 仍然存在的未解之谜
there are still some strange and enduring mysteries,
比如安慰剂效应
like the placebo effect.
那么我们还有些什么没有被发现的奇迹呢
So what other undiscovered marvels might we contain?
探索这个世界很容易
It’s easy to investigate the world around us
人们也很容易遗忘这个世界上最迷人的事物
and forget that one of its most fascinating subjects
就是我们自己
lies right behind our eyes.

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