Daniel Jacobs also wants to use placebos for good. His new app, which he’s crowd-funding on Indiegogo, is an attempt to take the placebo out of the doctor’s office and into your home. He hopes it will make people feel better, and contribute further to placebo research.
You start by setting a goal: say, more joy or love in your life. Then, you choose someone to give you the placebo (maybe a friend or family member), what you want it to be (a pill, say), and where you want to take it (maybe a forest where you go running with a friend). You then "take" the placebo whenever you want to, following a pre-set ritual built into the app.
The point is to replicate what’s important about the placebo effect, which isn’t the pill itself, but the experience. "If we think about placebo as a transformational symbol, then people get to choose what placebo they want," says Jacobs. "It can be a pill, magic wand, holy book, communion wafer, or herbs. It just needs to be meaningful for them."