Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness Distinguished Lecture: Consciousness, “Symbolic Healing,” and the Meaning Response

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Abstract

Symbolic healing, that is, responding to meaningful experiences in positive ways, can facilitate human healing. This process partly engages consciousness and partly evades consciousness completely (sometimes it partakes of both simultaneously). This paper, presented as the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness Distinguished Lecture at the 2011 AAA meeting in Montreal, reviews recent research on what is ordinarily (and unfortunately) called the “placebo effect.” The author makes the argument that language use should change, and the relevant portions of what is often called the placebo effect should be referred to as the “meaning response.”

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