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It has been shown that even if you tell a patient this pill is placebo and it's not going to help you, there's still some positive effect. It's all about perception. There was a really good TED talk with the topic "Is there scientific proof we can heal ourselves?" at TEDxAmericanRiviera presented by Lissa Rankin, MD.


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Not an answer, because I couldn't find any studies, but too long for a comment: Placebos aren't arbitrary. You are not given chocolate chips as a placebo treatment for a cold. The placebeo has the form of a "real" treatment for the illness or disorder, e.g. a pill without an agent. This means that in your experiment your subjects must treat themselves ...



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