The first several chapters are devoted to a history of the definition, use, and attitudes toward placebos from ancient times and cultures to our own era. The widespread use of such remedies as viper’s skin, bezoar stone, krebiozin, laetrile, bloodletting, and magnetism, to name but a few, as well as beliefs in untested theories such as homeopathy, iridology, Rolfing, and reflexology, lead the authors to conclude that "until recently, the history of medical treatment was essentially the history of the placebo effect." A lengthy section devoted to Psychiatry and Other Psychotherapies reveals that mental health practitioners have been especially slow in recognizing and acknowledging the centrality of the placebo effect in their practices. Using historical evidence and a reasoned critique of the methodology of a multitude of studies in psychological therapeutics, the authors conclude that, given current evidence, psychotherapies have the characteristics of placebo treatments, including "myriad schools, the use of one therapy for many disorders, the use of many therapies for one disorder, the predominance of nonspecific effects, and the absence of proof of specific effectiveness." Current popular psychotherapies, including cognitive therapy and interpersonal therapy, are not excluded from this critique.