A rigorous, skeptical, deeply reported look at the new science behind the mind's surprising ability to heal the body.
Have you ever felt a surge of adrenaline after narrowly avoiding an accident? Salivated at the sight (or thought) of a sour lemon? Felt turned on just from hearing your partner's voice? If so, then you've experienced how dramatically the workings of your mind can affect your body.
Yet while we accept that stress or anxiety can damage our health, the idea of "healing thoughts" was long ago hijacked by New Age gurus and spiritual healers. Recently, however, serious scientists from a range of fields have been uncovering evidence that our thoughts, emotions and beliefs can ease pain, heal wounds, fend off infection and heart disease and even slow the progression of AIDS and some cancers.
In Cure, award-winning science writer Jo Marchant travels the world to meet the physicians, patients and researchers on the cutting edge of this new world of medicine. We learn how meditation protects against depression and dementia, how social connections increase life expectancy and how patients who feel cared for recover from surgery faster. We meet Iraq war veterans who are using a virtual arctic world to treat their burns and children whose ADHD is kept under control with half the normal dose of medication. We watch as a transplant patient uses the smell of lavender to calm his hostile immune system and an Olympic runner shaves vital seconds off his time through mind-power alone.
Drawing on the very latest research, Marchant explores the vast potential of the mind's ability to heal, lays out its limitations and explains how we can make use of the findings in our own lives. With clarity and compassion, Cure points the way towards a system of medicine that treats us not simply as bodies but as human beings.
A New York Times Bestseller
Finalist for the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize
Longlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize
British science writer Marchant explores the possibilities of psychology-based approaches to improving physical well-being in this open-minded, evidence-based account. She connects readers with practitioners who are meticulously demonstrating real physiological and perceptual effects of psychotherapeutic treatments, particularly for problems for which traditional medical solutions are unavailable or problematic. Despite the incompatibility of these practices with the scientific gold standard of double-blind testing, Marchant does her best to identify the science underlying them and cite repeatedly demonstrated results. Going beyond the placebo effect, Marchant looks at successes with "honest placebos," physiological operant conditioning, hypnosis, virtual reality, meditation, and continuous compassionate care in providing real relief in pain reduction, improved physical outcomes, and patient satisfaction. The idea of the brain as "central governor" offers a possible framework for improving functional disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and depression by recalibrating the relationship between mind and body. It also appeals to patients who are weary of unhelpful medical interventions and dismissive accusations of hypochondria. Marchant has developed a powerful and critically needed conceptual bridge for those who are frustrated with pseudoscientific explanations of alternative therapies but intrigued by the mind's potential power to both cause and treat chronic, stress-related conditions.
Must read for your health.
Excellent work!! Highly recommend this book.