What is the Placebo Effect and How Does it Work?

  • Ian E. Wickramasekera


Until the twentieth century, physicians had not much more than the placebo effect to offer their patients (Benson & Epstein, 1975). In spite of this situation and the fact that they subjected their patients to purging, leeching, puncturing, cutting, heating, and freezing, physicians generally occupied respected social positions. This paradox is accounted for by the potency of the placebo effect in the history of medicine. The disapproval of the placebo effect developed mainly with the start of controlled drug studies in the 1950s.


Active Ingredient Placebo Effect Placebo Response Pavlovian Conditioning Neutral Stimulus 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian E. Wickramasekera
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavioral Medicine Clinic and Stress Disorders Research LaboratoryEastern Virginia Medical SchoolNorfolkUSA

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