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Is there such a thing as "negative placebo effect"?


I've heard of a placebo but what is a negative placebo?

4270 day(s) ago

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bjones
Clinical studies have shown again and again that, although there is no physical basis for it, the placebo effect and its cousin the negative placebo effect are very real and manifest in patients both physically and psychologically. To understand what the negative placebo effect is, it is first important to understand what the regular placebo effect is.

The word placebo is taken from Latin. It means “I shall please.” A placebo medicine usually takes the form of a pill made only of sugar. Doctors don’t tell the patient it is sugar, though. They tell the patient it is a new and effective drug that has the power to cure the symptoms they are experiencing. Anywhere from 44 percent to 62 percent of all people will feel some relief from a placebo medication. So many people are affected by placebos that they must be included in all clinical studies of new medicines to make sure the real medicine actually works. In studies, one group is given the real medicine and a second group is given a placebo, then the effects are compared between the two groups. If the real medicine doesn’t help more than the placebo, it is considered ineffective and the chemists go back to the drawing board. The placebo effect is not limited to pills. It can take the form of creams, liquids, or even procedures and situations such as getting sunlight or darkness, cold or warmth, or undergoing a fake surgery.

The placebo effect has an evil twin. This is called the negative placebo effect or nocebo. The word nocebo comes from the Latin for “I will harm.” This is when a doctor or another person of authority tells a patient that a sugar pill or other inert substance is a toxin or that it will cause a certain debilitating side effect. If a doctor tells a patient that they are likely to experience a negative result, many patients report actually feeling the negative result even though they are only eating a small bit of sugar. This also holds true for surgery. If a doctor tells a patient it will be painful, then patients will report they are in pain.


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