"From the rest of your post, it sounds like you're predisposed to believe in unobservable effects, so if some particular situation or practice makes you feel better, great! "
No, i started out a hard core materialist, with only interest in science, until i started accumulating more and more experiences that kind of forced me to be more open minded to "unobservable effects" and explanations.
Being skeptical is great, but remember true scientific skepticism is also open minded and not certain. It's a way of not holding on to beliefs, perceptions and perspectives too tightly. Always questioning, always curious, always seeking the most expanded truth.
In my example, i said i was not certain of what the correlation or cause, or anything was.
Also, to understand placebo, you have to understand that yeah, it's largely unconscious, when it's unconscious. Meaning, if you consciously think something will not have an effect, and more over have an emotional attachment to that belief and thought, it's very highly unlikely that placebo effect is going to happen to the contrary.
Placebo effect is MOST noticed in the following situations. People are given a pill and told, this is a medicine and will help you with so and so. Not knowing any better, and having a preconceived belief in medical efficacy in general, and more over in the experts giving one medicine in the specific... In this case, they don't know better, they don't know it's a sugar pill or what not. Well, such a strong belief, might be enough to have an influence on the body.
The situation as described with my wife, is much different than the above in all the important aspects. She had a preconceived belief that nothing was going to happen. She only agreed to the experiment to prove me wrong.
The ironic thing is that placebo is so pervasive, and so strong at times, that scientifically speaking, it IS the pink elephant in the room in so much as conventional, mainstream science cannot even begin to really explain or even ALLOW for such effects to begin with. This plainly indicates there is a lot missing in our understanding and explanations...
Oh, the irony of it ;)
edited for spelling & arrangement, and addition of info