Placebos Considered Harmful

It makes total sense that placebos could have people get phantom side-effects as well as phantom improvements, but it had never occured to me before I read this article, When Placebos Do Harm. The thing I find most interesting is the possibility that extensive discussion of the side-effects of drugs could cause people to experience them even if there is no chemical causation for that individual. The article also has some interesting things to say about how this effect can influence medical studies – if a subject attributes a random headache to a placebo, they may then believe they have evidence they are taking the real drug, and as a result have a stronger placebo effect. The influence of mental state on physical state is so fascinating.

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