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7. Reasoning: Hacks 70–74 > 73. Fool Others into Feeling Better

Fool Others into Feeling Better

Many of the unpleasant phenomena associated with injury and infection are in fact produced by the brain to protect the body. Medical assistance shifts the burden of protection from self to other, which allows the brain to reduce its self-imposed unpleasantness.

Injury or infection triggers a coordinated suite of physiological responses involving the brain, hormones, and immune system. The brain generates pain and fever, stress hormones mobilize energy from fat, and immune cells cause local swelling and redness. These processes are collectively known as the acute phase response because they occur rapidly and tend to subside after a few days. Medical assistance can help these unpleasant signs and symptoms to subside more quickly, even when that assistance is completely bogus—such as a witch doctor waving a rattle at you or a quack prescribing a sugar pill. This is known as the placebo effect.


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