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Nocebo: The psychologic induction of pain


More than two-thirds of an unselected sample of 34 college students reported mild headaches when told that a (nonexistent) electric current was passing through their heads. These reports appeared independent of whether the instructions emphasized the headache-producing effect of the current or whether the emphasis was on a perceptual task, with headache as only a possible side effect. The results are consistent with a view of pain as localized stress. They provide additional grounds for the suspicion that clinical focusing on pain may itself be a cause of pain.

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Correspondence to Avraham Schweiger.

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Schweiger, A., Parducci, A. Nocebo: The psychologic induction of pain. Pav. J. Biol. Sci. 16, 140–143 (1981).

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  • Perceptual Task
  • Noxious Stimulation
  • Mild Headache
  • Analgesic Placebo
  • Unselected Sample