The Power of the Unspoken and Unspeakable
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The Power  of the Unspoken and the Unspeakable

THE NOCEBO EFFECT: PLACEBO'S EVIL TWIN
from The Washington Post

Ten years ago, researchers stumbled onto a striking finding: Women who believed that they were prone to heart disease were nearly four times as likely to die as women with similar risk factors who didn't hold such fatalistic views.

The higher risk of death, in other words, had nothing to with the usual heart disease culprits -- age, blood pressure, cholesterol, weight. Instead, it tracked closely with belief. Think sick, be sick.

That study is a classic in the annals of research on the "nocebo" phenomenon, the evil twin of the placebo effect. While the placebo effect refers to health benefits produced by a treatment that should have no effect, patients experiencing the nocebo effect experience the opposite. They presume the worst, health-wise, and that's just what they get.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A2709-2002Apr29.html