SECOND THOUGHT

Looking again at news and comment

Johns Hopkins Magazine

"I'm the doctor and you're the patient: I tell you I'm giving you something to make you feel better. You take it and, sure enough, you do feel better. Yet there's nothing in what I gave you to account for it. Maybe it's an injection of salt solution, which can relieve severe surgical pain by no physiological mechanism known to medical science. Or a sugar pill, which logically, pharmacologically, or any other way can have no effect, for good or ill, on the common cold. But it does anyhow: That's the placebo effect.

"Like other medicines, a placebo may or may not work; the 'placebo effect' is what happens when it does. ... It is, in short, the form of treatment without its substance; yet it can achieve substantive results.

NEXT IN THIS ISSUE
Editorial
Ultimate trend: finding the "great Physician"
March 5, 1984
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