Central German Mental Health Center

Another worldwide expertise of the CMC is research on placebo mechanisms. We induced positive and negative expectations in healthy controls and DEP, with placebo applications and active drugs (e.g. ketamine). This provided us with a broad expertise to better understand syndromes (e.g. ruminations), but most importantly, to design better (pharmacological) treatment trials.

Inspired by placebo research, we investigated the mechanism of expectation as a crucial factor to understand development, maintenance, and change of mental disorders. Accordingly, we have developed a brief “expectation-optimization intervention” that is suitable not only for mental disorders, but also medical conditions. We showed how onset effects of drugs can booster efficacy, and how placebo instructions modify the affective and cognitive systems. We also varied physician-patient relationship aspects and demonstrated its impact on treatment adherence.