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The Nocebo Effect, Placebo's Evil Twin

Because of overscreening and the diagnosis of contrived or harmless ills, the so-called nocebo effect is wreaking havoc on otherwise healthy people.

It's all in your head
It's all in your head
Nic Ulmi

GENEVA — Like heroes in television series, the placebo effect has an evil twin: "nocebo." A placebo, of course, is "a substance having no pharmacological effect but given merely to satisfy a patient who supposes it to be a medicine." The idea is that the power of suggestion can sometimes heal in and of itself. Nocebo works the same way but with the opposite effect. Tell me I swallowed rotten food, for example, and my guts will writhe in pain.

But why? The brain's job is to manage the functions of the body, so it's not surprising that the information it absorbs affects the process. In The Nocebo Effect, American essayist Stewart Justman writes about the devastating effects of nocebo in diagnoses as varying as anorexia, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, dissociative identity disorder, hyperactivity, and cancers of the breast and prostate.

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Society

Urban Indigenous: How Peru's Shipibo-Conibo Keep Amazon Culture Alive In The City

For four years, indigenous photographer David Díaz Gonzales has documented the lives and movements of his Shipibo-Conibo community, as many of them migrated from their native Peruvian Amazon to the city. A work of remembrance and resistance.

For Shipibo-Conibo women, sporting a fringe is usually a sign of celebration or ceremony.

Rosa Chávez Yacila

YARINACOCHA — It was decades ago when the Shipibo-Conibo left their settlements along the banks of the Ucayali River, in eastern Peru, to begin a great migration to the cities. Still among the largest Amazonian communities in Peru — 32,964 according to the Ministry of Culture — though most Shipibo-Conibo now live in the urban district of Yarinacocha.

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