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Unit V Lecture IV – April 3.docx

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Philosophy 2006
Sean Coughlin

Unit V Lecture IV – April 3, 2012 Hahn & Kleinman “Belief Kills; Belief Heals”  Do our beliefs, our expectations, either individual or cultural, cause harm or benefit to our bodies? o Hahn & Kleinman: YES We should distinguish senses in which this is true  Obvious sense  We have beliefs that we attend to, or actively think about; These beliefs cause us to act in certain ways; These actions can be good or bad for us.  Less obvious sense  We have beliefs or expectations, some of which we aren’t necessarily aware of; These beliefs cause our bodies to act in ways we aren’t aware of; The effects of these actions cause harm or benefit to the body, but we aren’t certain why they have any effect.  Even less obvious sense  Some cultures have a belief in the power of magic or witchcraft; These beliefs cause their bodies to act in certain ways; The effects are attributed to magic or witchcraft by those in the other culture o Magic does not exist as a scientifically held belief in our culture o So, we believe there must be some other cause o These instances share similarities with placebo/nocebo responses, so they are both likely due to the same internal physiological response to beliefs and expectations o Words we use to describe this phenomenon: “psychosomatic,” “fight or flight,” “giving up/given in,” “placebo effect/response,” “nocebo effect/response” Case Study—“Bone Pointing”  Used by Aborigines in Australia  Sharpened kangaroo bone is pointed at an enemy in a public display  Victim usually falls sick within a few hours  Dies within a few days  No evidence that it can be attributed to poisoning 
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