I'm thinking that one's notion of Self-God-the Beloved might just be a kind of placebo.
Yes, in a way it's the ultimate placebo. What begins as a notion can become a belief, deepen into an intuitive knowing, grow into a living conviction and blossom into direct experience.
An experience of what?
For one thing, experiencing that our ego-mind, moment by moment, limits experience of our essence.
Essence being what?
Our connection to Real Self, the One in the many.
And what is that many?
The many ego-minds, the many objects, the many parts and aspects of the cosmic imagination.
Imagination as in nothing is real?
As in nothing in itself is real, not real unless experienced as aspect of the One.
So imagination is another term for maya, illusion.
Which leads back to your initial comment about the placebo effect.
In what way?
Well, anything that distract from awareness of Self could be called a nocebo, reinforcing an uncomfortable outcome based on imagination's expectations. Such expectations or beliefs serve to keep us glued to our limited minds, our reactive or conditioned minds.