Placebo factors at healing sanctuaries in pagan and early Christian times

Hedvig von Ehrenheim
2021 Trends in Classics  
The article analyses possible placebo effects that Late Antique religious healing might have had. It focuses on healings believed to have been sent in dreams to worshippers, both in pagan and Early Christian tradition. It also investigates how possible placebo effects might have served to propagate and spread the particular cults (be it the cult of Asklepios, or the Early Christian cults of martyrs). The paper seeks to integrate modern placebo research with the ancient accounts of healings,
more » ... ering the following question: is it possible that the placebo effect (above all relief of pain) was activated in ancient times by the same factors as seen in experiments today (e. g. effect of the healer's persona, ritualized behaviour, and above all belief in the cure)? The scope of the paper is at the end broadened to touch upon the question to what degree ancient religious healing offered a socially well-established method of handling illnesses psychologically and fill the need to act, even if a cure as such was not a probable result.
doi:10.1515/tc-2021-0004 fatcat:iddnontq7fbq3k322jm5jfrbii