Phänomenologie der digitalen Welt

Sommerschule der Deutschen Gesellschaft für phänomenologische Forschung

Repository | Series | Buch | Kapitel


Making sense in the medical system

placebo, biosemiotics, and the pseudomachine

Stefan Schmidt(Universität Wuppertal)Harald Walach

pp. 195-215


The objective of this contribution is to conceptualize self-healing processes in a biosemiotic model. Thereby the main question is how beliefs, expectations, attributions, and meaning creating processes can result in physiological changes. In order to address these issues, we have to go beyond the predominant biophysical model of the medical sciences which assumes that humans can be entirely described within a causal-mechanistic framework. The starting point for our biosemotic approach will be the field of placebo research. This is an appropriate field in order to demonstrate the interaction between the mental and the physical and the shortcomings of the biophysical model. Furthermore, the field of placebo research is meanwhile well-respected within the biophysical framework itself and can thus serve as a blueprint for a medical approach that transcends the mechanical view by conceptualizing humans, and indeed patients, as conscious, active, meaning-making agents, and by demonstrating that "meaning" has a deep impact on biophysical processes.

Publication details

Published in:

Goli Farzad (2016) Biosemiotic medicine: healing in the world of meaning. Dordrecht, Springer.

Seiten: 195-215

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-35092-9_8


Schmidt Stefan, Walach Harald (2016) „Making sense in the medical system: placebo, biosemiotics, and the pseudomachine“, In: F. Goli (ed.), Biosemiotic medicine, Dordrecht, Springer, 195–215.