Dr. Charles Henderson provides a case in point. He tells of a woman who “had suffered from acute bouts of depression for 30 years when she saw a newspaper ad looking for subjects for an antidepressant study to be conducted by the Neuropsychiatric Institute of UCLA. She applied to be a participant and was accepted into the research program.
She went to the institute at the appointed time where she was prepared for participation with interviews and a 45 minute session on an electroencephalograph [i-lek-troh-en-sef-uh-luh-graf] to record her brain activity. When she left she had a bottle of pills she was to take. She was excited and couldn’t wait to get started taking them.
The woman, who was at that time a 46-year-old interior designer, got dramatically better within a couple of weeks. Her bouts of depression had disappeared and she no longer felt worthless (she had at one time seriously considered suicide). She was functioning at a higher level, and feeling better, than she had in years. For two months she went to the institute weekly for interviews, tests, and EEGs to record her progress. At the end of the study she was a different person. She attributed her nearly miraculous recovery to the new antidepressant drug which was the subject of the study. It was venlafaxine, better known as Effexor.
But on her final visit she received a stunning shock: She was told that she had not been taking medicine at all, but a placebo… She had been taking nothing but sugar pills.” The pills could not be the result of her amazing improvement because sugar pills do not have any pharmacological drug ingredient or chemical compounds.