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Doctors, Patients, and Placebos.

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By Spiro Howard M.. . 261 pages. Yale University Press; , New Haven: , 1986.. $27.50.

Ann Intern Med. 1987;106(4):644. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-106-4-644_2
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The current conflict in medicine concerning the use of placebos is examined in depth by a nationally known gastroenterologist and professor of medicine in one of our major academic institutions. The author discusses what he considers the three elements that interact when placebos are used: the physician's role as a healer, the placebo and its possible modes of action, and the patient in context.

The author draws a distinction between disease and illness, and suggests that the placebo is a legitimate form of therapy for "illness" even if we are uncertain about its mode of action and there is no


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