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Placebo TalksModern perspectives on placebos in society$
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Amir Raz and Cory Harris

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199680702

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199680702.001.0001

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Pills in a pretty box: social sources of the placebo effect

Pills in a pretty box: social sources of the placebo effect

Chapter:
(p.144) Chapter 9 Pills in a pretty box: social sources of the placebo effect
Source:
Placebo Talks
Author(s):

Stewart Justman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199680702.003.0009

The placebo effect cannot be reduced to the expectation of a patient in a social vacuum like those engineered in many studies where placebos serve either as controls or as the focus of research. It is a social phenomenon with a life of its own, just as a kind of social movement served as the carrier of the mysterious energy known as Mesmerism—the object of the first scientific investigation of the placebo effect. Mesmerism drew followers as if socially magnetic. The same is true of a kindred but more transient medical fashion in late eighteenth-century England, and indeed some medical fashions today, notably including the antidepressant vogue. While the social dimension of the placebo effect has largely escaped the attention of the medical literature, by no means has it gone unnoticed in the literature of the imagination.

Keywords:   placebo effect, Antidepressant, medical literature, Mesmerism, social phenomenon

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