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Placebo Effect and Penetrating Divine Illumination

Sunday, 10/28 at 9:00 AM to 9:55 AM

What is the fundamental difference between “causality” as defi ned in biomedicine and East Asian medicine? What is “evidence” in the two systems? The difference will be examined by contrasting the biomedical idea of placebo effects and the concept of the “penetrating divine illumination”. Professor Kaptchuk will present a history of the “penetrating divine illumination” from the Nei Jing to early 19th century and why it disappears from Asian medical texts. Clinical implications will be discussed, which will form the foundation for the afternoon talk on how the soul and physical body are inextricably linked

Ted Kaptchuk

Ted’s multidisciplinary career began with his training as an acupuncturist and herbalist in Macao, China. He then went on to write a classic textbook on Chinese medicine called The Web That Has No Weaver and wrote a BBC documentary series on global healing traditions. Ted was recruited to investigate Asian medicine at Harvard and subsequently trained in rigorous scientific methodology. He has gone on to lead groundbreaking studies across a variety of disciplines—including clinical science, neurobiology, psychology, anthropology, history, bioethics, and philosophy—all focused on placebo effects and the healing encounter. He is a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, where he directs the Program in Placebo Studies and Therapeutic Encounter, hosted at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.


View the 2018 conference schedule at a glance. The full 2018 program brochure is coming soon.