The placebo effect as a ‘looping kind’

The idea has been floated that when psychiatrists classify people and effect that classification through education, medical practice, and popular culture, those people can become aware of their being so classified and thence render the original classification obsolete. The idea is Ian Hacking’s and he calls the phenomenon, ‘looping kinds.’

Whereas Hacking applies this idea to kinds of people, research reported in Wired suggests that a similar phenomenon can be witnessed in the infamous placebo effect.

There has been a rise in the placebo effect since the 1990s. Part of the explanation is this. Drug companies create advertisements. The aim is to make the drug more appealing than the others at the point of sale. But the result has been an increase in positive expectations and experiences at point of consumption.

By effecting a classification of a drug through education, medical practice and popular culture, the activity of undergoing treatment and recovery from illness, has looped: it has been caused to change by how it has been widely (mis)understood.

For the original article go here.

Related articles:
£1.99 - small Natural Kinds and Natural Kind Terms
By Kathrin Koslicki , University of Colorado at Boulder
(Vol. 3, June 2008)
Philosophy Compass