You’ve heard of the nocebo effect, right?

We all know about the placebo effect. Well, here’s its ugly brother.

nocebo (no-SEE-bo) noun: A substance producing harmful effects in someone because it is believed to be harmful, but which in reality is harmless. [From Latin nocebo (I will harm), from nocere (to harm). Modeled after placebo (I will please).]

Both groups who received nocebos showed elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood.” James Morgan; Is Your Pain a Trick of the Mind? The Herald (Glasgow, UK); Jan 12, 2007.

An article with many interesting examples of nocebo effect.

From words at



P.S. This is one thing I love about English–it’s alive and growing, stealing from any language it can.

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One Response to You’ve heard of the nocebo effect, right?

  1. Katie Lovett says:

    Well, that is really interesting! I’ll have to remember that.

    Actually, I have a question (favor?) to ask of you, which is how I found my way over here in the first place. I couldn’t find your email address on the site, so I figured I’d just post in the comments here. I recently read about your book in Publisher’s Lunch Weekly, and I had something to ask you regarding that. If it’s not too much trouble, could you email me? I understand if you can’t, but I would really appreciate it. Thanks!