Placebo effect - Definition

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The placebo effect is a mechanism of autosuggestion capable of relieving symptoms felt by an individual due to the production of endorphins by the brain. When a patient is convinced by his therapist of the use of a prescribed treatment, he can feel benefits after having received-- unwittingly-- a medication that does not contain a single active ingredient. The placebo effect can relieve symptoms during a relatively long period of time, but when a patient is afflicted with a serious, long-lasting illness, the effect is only short-term. The placebo effect is used during the testing of pharmaceutical products.