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Placebo EffectsUnderstanding the mechanisms in health and disease$
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Fabrizio Benedetti

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199559121

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199559121.001.0001

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The traditional concept of placebo

The traditional concept of placebo

(p.1) Chapter 1 The traditional concept of placebo
Placebo Effects

Fabrizio Benedetti

Oxford University Press

The history of medicine is basically the history of placebos, as most early medical interventions were nothing but placebos, i.e., inert. Over the centuries, doctors started using sham treatments to see whether the clinical improvements were attributable to patients' imagination and/or spontaneous remissions. Today placebos are widely used in clinical research to validate the efficacy of a therapy as well as in clinical practice to please and to placate anxious patients. The placebo effect represents a good example of how a mental activity may affect several physiological functions, thus it is an excellent model to study the mind-body interaction. The nocebo effect, which is opposite to the placebo effect, is also a good model to understand the interaction between mind and body.

Keywords:   history of medicine, shamanism, clinical trial, medical practice, mind-body interaction, nocebo

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