The Nocebo Effect: Think Pain, Feel Pain
Most readers are familiar with the placebo effect, which can persuade patients taking a particular medicine to feel better even if the “medicine” is a simple sugar pill. Now, from Germany of course, comes the nocebo effect, which produces illness and pain just by thinking about illness and pain. HealthDay reports that researchers at the Klinikum Saarbruck who reviewed existing studies of the phenomenon are persuaded that yes, it can make us more miserable than we actually are. HealthDay cites one study in which researchers randomly divided 50 patients with chronic back pain into two groups: One was told that a leg-flexing test could boost their pain slightly, while the other was told that it wouldn’t affect their pain. Those who were warned about pain reported actually having more pain and didn’t perform as well on the test. Other research indicates that people who think they might get a drug can develop its side effects even if they aren’t really given the drug. Read more from HealthDay.