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February 19, 1973

Acupuncture and Suggestion

JAMA. 1973;223(8):922. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220080052020

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To the Editor.—  Adler (222:833, 1972) urges a scientific evaluation of the role of suggestion in the efficacy of acupuncture. He, like others, urges a double-blind study, using as controls acupuncture needles deliberately placed a short distance from "approved sites." Unfortunately, the technique advocated will not work, for the following reason.It is not generally realized that proper placement of acupuncture needles requires the cooperation of the patient. Surface anatomy and depth of insertion are both critical. At a large number of points, paresthesias are elicited; with most other clinically useful points, a sensation of soreness or mild discomfort prompts the patient to exclaim "That's it!" or "Yes, yes!" as the correct location is reached. Only the naive subject could be deceived by the double-blind approach, and then only briefly.An alternative might be to compare results with acupuncture and with hypnosis in the same individual. A high degree of