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The Ethics of the Placebo

Jenny Lott

English 1301 for Future Healthcare Providers
Lone Star College
Paper 3: Argumentative Research Paper

The Ethics of the Placebo
Why do certain people need or want medicine even when they are not ill or do not need it?   Hypochondriacs are described as people who make up or fake an ailment. They may do it for the attention or because they really think they are sick. This condition is described as hypochondriasis or health anxiety. Since people do not understand how or why a hypochondriac behaves the way they do, it is assumed as something negative to the general public. Even some physicians do not know how to handle said hypochondriacs. “The prevalence of those suffering from lifetime hypochondriasis is only 1%-5% of the general population”, Hart and Bjorgvinsson.   Should they be able to receive prescriptions even when they are not actually ill?   Should the doctor prescribe them the drug they want or think they need? Should the physician prescribe them a placebo? Should the patient be able to self-diagnose and self-medicate? Or should the physician prescribe a placebo to the patient is they know the patient is making up symptoms? The answer is not clear. I believe that it is ethical for a physician to prescribe a placebo for a patient who is not really sick. I believe that prescribing a placebo is a way to manage some of those suffering from hypochondriasis.
The definition of a placebo is a pill is: 1. a substance containing no medication and prescribed or given to reinforce a patient's expectation to get well. b. An inactive substance or preparation used as a control in an experiment or test to determine the effectiveness of a medicinal drug. 2. something of no intrinsic remedial value that is used to appease or reassure another.(http://www.thefreedictionary.com/placeboThere is no harm is prescribing a placebo to someone who “thinks they need a pill” for a particular ailment they may not actually suffer from. Giving a...

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