The placebo concept in medicine and psychiatry

Psychol Med. 1986 Feb;16(1):19-38. doi: 10.1017/s0033291700002506.


The standard technical vocabulary used to define placebo therapies and experimental placebo controls in medicine and psychiatry is both confusing and obscure. To achieve conceptual clarity in the theory of placebogenic phenomena, this paper offers a rigorous articulation of the placebo notion, a lucid new terminology that obviates the defects intrinsic to the traditional locutions employed in the placebo literature, and a substantial revamping of A. K. Shapiro's influential prior definition of 'placebo'. This paper supersedes an earlier version (Grünbaum, 1981).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Placebos / therapeutic use*
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Sick Role
  • Terminology as Topic


  • Placebos