The Placebo: A Reader
OverviewThe placebo effect is a fascinating but elusive phenomena. Although no standard definition of the placebo effect exists, it is generally understood as consisting of responses of individuals to the psychosocial context of medical treatments or clinical encounters, as distinct from specific physiological effects of medical interventions. The Placebo is the first book to compile a selection of classic and contemporary published articles on the topic. Systematic investigation of the placebo effect emerged in the 1950s in response to the development of randomized controlled clinical trials that used "inert" placebo interventions as a pivotal element of scientific evaluation of novel drugs. In recent years, scientific and scholarly investigation of the placebo effect has increased dramatically, reflecting a growing interest in the connection between mind and body with respect to health, the development of brain imaging techniques, dissatisfaction with the reductionist and technological orientation of biomedicine, and growing attention to the use of complementary and alternative medical treatments. The Placebo is organized into three sections: the nature and significance of the placebo effect, experimental studies of the placebo effect, and ethical issues of placebos in research and in clinical practice. This comprehensive sourcebook will be invaluable to investigators and scholars alike.