Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 30 (The Placebo Effect)

Another Tuesday, another trip to Berkley for "Drugs and Jesus" at Star King. This is going to be an interesting class. First of all, as much as people like to smoke marijuana around me, I have not actually done it myself. Second of all, I'm a naive sheltered Presbyterian boy from Santa Rosa Valley, CA that doesn't know the first thing about drug use, their effects, or even for the most part what they are when people mention them by name. I have the foggiest of vague ideas of what ecstasy is. I don't know what it looks like, I don't know what it feels like to be on it, how much a hit normally costs, how to recognize when someone is using it, or anything at all. So, I sit there and I listen to all of these people talking about their experiences with drugs and I feel like I have nothing to contribute to the class. All I can talk about is wine, and when you compare that to someone's trip to Amsterdam, what is there to talk about?

As these discussions often do, the topic moved to prescription drugs and what exactly is the difference between prescription drugs and so-called illegal drugs. This then moved on to a conversation about placebos and how effective they are, which led me to ask the question, "What would happen to me if someone switched out my blood pressure medication for placebos without me knowing about it?" Several people in the class seemed to think I would be just fine, even though the general consensus was that I should never actually try this. I'm sorry, but I think this is a bunch of bull. Drugs work. That's how people get high and that's what keeps my blood vessels dilated. I'm not saying that there is no validity to the power of the mind. I am well aware of how powerful the mind is and the amazing things that faith can accomplish, but I do not think that the chemicals that drugs introduce into our systems can be discounted in such an easy fashion.

We live in a modern society; we understand the scientific method, and unless we all want to jump on to the conspiracy bandwagon, I have to believe that there are actual scientists at pharmaceutical companies who are actually doing their jobs. Does that mean the companies don't exist to make money? No. Does that mean they haven't done some shady drug-related things in the past? No. But, just because there have been some incidents of corruption and unethical behavior does not mean that the entire system is defunct.

If someone were to switch out my medication without me knowing about it, my blood pressure would start to go up. This is not my belief; it is not something I'm taking this on faith. It is simply a fact. Give me my beta blockers, or give me death!


  1. I think if someone switched your blood pressure meds for placebo pills you would know because your body would automatically feel the effects. It's not like you're taking pain killers to get high or something.

  2. I know. I kept arguing with the people in the class, but they have some warped beliefs over there

  3. Dude, "Drugs and Jesus" is actually about drugs and Jesus?! How did I miss that?

    You know where I stand on the whole faith healing thing...just because there have been some examples of the placebo effect impacting people's health, it doesn't mean it applies everywhere.