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Here, Take This Placebo

Apr 9, 2013, 2:48 PM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

A handful of pills

A recent report found "most family doctors" in the United Kingdom have given a patient a placebo.

And why not?, asks Phillipa Perry in The Guardian — after all, "a placebo is an effective, proven intervention that stimulates our bodies' own capacity to heal itself."

The answer to Perry’s question, some might argue, is deception — doctors shouldn’t lie to their patients. But what if deception wasn’t necessary for a placebo to work? What if you could tell someone you were giving them a placebo, and it could still improve their symptoms?

This idea is at the heart of Pioneer grantee Ted Kaptchuk's research at Harvard's Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter (PiPS), the first multidisciplinary institute dedicated to studying placebos. 

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