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Placebo PSA

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Because people cannot seem to be reminded of this enough: Human beings will get great placebo from any treatment that seems impressive in any way (more invasive, novel, unpleasant, whatever suggests potency). This accounts for most treatment success stories from both patients and professionals. Everyone should know better than to trust those stories — because it’s 2013, not 1913 — but they are still prevalent, given far too much weight, and they hijack most conversations about what works and what doesn’t for stubborn painful problems. As soon as someone says, “Well, it works for me/my patients,” that’s pretty much the end of any useful debate.

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