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"Placebos, Healing and a Mother's Kiss"

New York Times
Letters to the Editor
May 29, 2001

To the Editor:

Re "Placebo Effect Is More Myth Than Science, Study Says" (news article, May 24):

It is self-evident that the so-called placebo effect is just as imaginary as is the therapeutic effect of any other kind of faith healing. In addition, the term is an offensive relic of medical paternalism.

What is a placebo? A lie that the physician tells the patient. Accordingly, the placebo is not a species of treatment, but a species of deception - just as malingering is not a species of illness, but a species of deception.

An ounce of clear thinking is worth a pound of research into the mysteries of the obvious.


Syracuse, May 24, 2001

The writer is professor emeritus of psychiatry at SUNY.

Thomas S. Szasz Cybercenter for Liberty and Responsibility:
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