On the Efficacy of Placebos: An Historian’s Perspective
Lecture by Professor Charles Rosenberg, Harvard University
Biennal Kass Lecture on the History of Medicine
8th floor, open space, Strand Building
ContactProfessor Abigail Woods
Physicians have for centuries understood what we have come to call the “placebo effect.” “Sugar pills” and the effects of “imagination” have for centuries occupied an unquestioned place in the physician’s pharmacological and conceptual assumptions. In recent generations, however, we have spent more time in explaining away than in explaining the placebo effect. But if we think of it as signal, not noise, what can the placebo’s signals tell us about medicine as a social system, about the configuration of ideas and practices, institutions and expectations that constitute medicine. And what can it tell us about continuity and change in that system and how to think about efficacy in terms more capacious than those captured in the results of Evidence Based Medicine?
Followed by a drinks reception 18.30-19.30.
All are welcome to attend. To reserve your place, please register using the link above.
Charles E. Rosenberg was born in New York City and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1956. He received both his master's degree (1957) and Ph.D. (1961) from Columbia University. He taught at the University of Pennsylvania from 1963 until 2001. In 2001, he moved to Harvard University as Professor of the History of Science and Ernest Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences. Charles Rosenberg has written widely on the history of medicine and science and is best known for his Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849, and 1866 (Chicago, 1962, new edition, 1987); The Trial of the Assassin Guiteau. Psychiatry and Law in the Gilded Age (Chicago, 1968); No Other Gods. On Science and American Social Thought (Johns Hopkins, 1976, new and expanded edition, 1997); The Care of Strangers. The Rise of America’s Hospital System (Basic Books, 1987); Explaining Epidemics (Cambridge, 1992); and Our Present Complaint: American Medicine, Then and Now (Johns Hopkins, 2007), He has also co-authored or edited another half-dozen books.
Kass Lecture on the History of Medicine
The History Department at King’s College London is delighted to have the opportunity to host the biennial Kass Lecture on the History of Medicine. The Amalie and Edward Kass Lecture Fund was originally created in 1988 in honour of the 70th birthday of Edward Kass and the 60th birthday of his wife Amalie Kass. It was made possible thanks to the generosity of their eight children. The gifts additionally acknowledged and honoured their parents’ scholarly contributions. Edward and Amalie Kass had, in 1988, finished writing a published biography of Thomas Hodgkin. Research for this publication led them to spend a sabbatical year together in England, away from their home in the USA. Their time spent in the UK motivated their children to direct the gift towards a lecture on medical history, to be held in the UK. It was originally set up as a partnership between the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine and Guy’s Hospital (due to links with Thomas Hodgkin). The Department of History at Kings College London became the host venue in 2015.