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The Sickening Mind: Brain, Behaviour, Immunity and Disease [Paperback]

Paul Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: 10.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

5 Jan 1998

‘A masterpiece of popularization’ Times Literary Supplement

‘A fascinating account, based on objective scientific research, of the ways in which mental states affect the individual’s liability to disease… Martin is a highly civilised scientist, who seasons his text with witty parentheses. He also provides many examples from literature, ranging widely from Shakespeare, Goethe and Hardy to Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Kafka… Interesting, informative and a pleasure to read.’ ANTHONY STORR, Sunday Times

‘Excellent’ JON TURNEY, Financial Times

‘This most accessible account of a difficult subject blows away some prejudices and pleasingly justifies others… Martin is a biologist whose style is considerate of the layman…and it is a tribute to his own benignly infectious enthusiasm for his subject that his closing thoughts are encouraging… Remarkable.’ ALAN JUDD, Daily Telegraph

‘Compelling… Balanced and impressively up to date… The tone of voice, the open-minded but critical intelligence should uplift the quality of the debate… Martin’s lucid account of possible mechanisms of the connections between mental states and personality traits and illnesses is a notable triumph of his book… Excellent.’ RAYMOND TALLIS, Times Literary Supplement


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; New Ed edition (5 Jan 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006550223
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006550228
  • Product Dimensions: 12.2 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 330,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

'A fascinating account, based on objective scientific research, of the ways in which mental states affect the individual's liability to disease… Martin has admirably succeeded in demonstrating "that our mental state and physical health are inexorably intertwined" … He is a highly civilised scientist, who seasons his text with witty parentheses. He also provides many examples from literature, ranging widely from Shakespeare, Goethe and Hardy to Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Kafka… Interesting, informative and a pleasure to read.'
ANTHONY STORR, 'Sunday Times'

'Excellent… Martin's book is a powerful reminder of the need for disciplined thinking in the face of the irreducible complexity of our bodies and minds, in sickness and in health.'
JON TURNEY, 'Financial Times'

'This most accessible account of a difficult subject blows away some prejudices and pleasingly justifies others… Martin is a biologist whose style is considerate of the layman… and it is a tribute to his own benignly infectious enthusiasm for his subject that his closing thoughts are encouraging… Remarkable.'
ALAN JUDD, 'Daily Telegraph'

'Compelling… Balanced and impressively up to date… The tone of voice, the open-minded but critical intelligence should uplift the quality of the debate… Martin's lucid account of possible mechanisms of the connections between mental states and personality traits and illnesses is a notable triumph of his book… Excellent.'
RAYMOND TALLIS, 'Times Literary Supplement'

About the Author

Paul Martin, PhD, is a former Cambridge lecturer in biology and Fellow of Wolfson College who received many awards and scholarships for his ground-breaking psychobiological research, but who tired of the stultifying life of the Oxbridge academic to become a governmental policy analyst. His previous book, co-authored with Patrick Bateson, is Measuring Behaviour (CUP, 1986; 2nd edn, 1993).


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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This erudite and immensely readable book explores the interaction between mind and the immune system. Drawing on three millenia of literature (as evidence of the human experience), and very recent research, Martin demonstrates that (crudely) how you feel affects your immunity to disease, and how your immune system affects the way you feel. To summarise it crudely, Martin demonstrates that just as cleaning your teeth daily may not of itself prevent you getting bad teeth - but not doing so makes it considerably more likely - so a low state of mental health renders each of us more likely to suffer from disease, slower to recover, and to live for a shorter period. Along the way, Martin suggests that suppressing the symptoms - such as taking pills to reduce fever - itself prolongs disease.
This is a book for the expert, but also for anyone who is broadly interested in health. Easy and fascinating reading. R J McL
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A highly complex area made readable 24 Nov 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
THe field of psychoneuroimmunology is tricky even for those working in it. This author has nonetheless managed to popularize it, summarizing the main findings and, crucially, the limitations of the research so far. Absolutely fascinating, the only thing I would change is to add more material.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
It's rare to turn the page of a newspaper without finding some mention of that curiously modern condition, the stress-related illness. But is there any real evidence of this phenomenom, and if so, how and why does it exist? Martin's book tries to address these questions, but ultimately only really succeeds in answering the former. The bulk of the book consists of summaries of vast ranges of scientific studies, showing statistical links between various forms of mental stress and an increased risk of falling prey to disease. These sections have a list-like feel to them, making them a chore to read even with Martin's frequent dips into classical literature for fictional parallels. The really interesting questions, that of how the stressed brain alters the immune system and why such links evolved, are only touched on briefly, and even then speculatively. This presumably reflects the current state of affairs, and the book does succeed in debunking a few myths about stress and illness, but leaves the reader feeling with more questions than answers. Still a recommended read, but gives no deep insight into the problem.
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