Placebo's as pleasing treatments: History of the concept - Deepstash
Placebo's as pleasing treatments: History of the concept

Placebo's as pleasing treatments: History of the concept

  • Plato's cure for headaches involved a leaf coupled with a charm. Without uttering the charm at the moment of application, the remedy was not effective. We would call Plato's "charm" a placebo.
  • In the 18th century, the term "placebo" was used to describe a doctor. In his 1763 book, Dr Pierce describes a visit to his sick friend, saying that he found "Dr Placebo" sitting at her bedside. She said she was well, and Pierce seems to imply that the positive effect Dr Placebo had was due to his great bedside manner, rather than the drops he gave.
  • Eventually, the word "placebo" started being used to describe treatments. In 1752, the Scottish obstetrician William Smellie used some innocent Placemus that his patient "may take between whiles, to beguile the time and please her imagination."

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"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book."

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