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The case of the bad placebo
Do we feel pain more at night?
The nocebo response
The pill may be inactive, but the side effects are real.
About 20% of patients taking a sugar pill in controlled clinical trials of a drug spontaneously report uncomfortable side effects — an even higher percentage if they are asked. These effects are one kind of nocebo — a word that means in Latin “I will harm,” as placebo means “I will please.”
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