Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief Paperback – 3 Jun 1996
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'Fascinating a gold mine of information about the integration of body, mind and soul.' -- M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Travelled
About the Author
Herbert Benson, MD, is the Mind Body Medical Institute Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. He is the author of the mega-bestselling book, The Relaxation Response, as well as ten other trade books. His groundbreaking work established the modern field of mind body medicine. Dr. Benson is the Director Emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
A medical account of the influence of mental attitude on bodily health
By Howard Jones
Here, a physician presents his professional experience of cases where attitude of mind or belief had a remarkable effect on the physical health of his patients. In this respect, the book is mostly anecdotal - but none the less persuasive for that! It provides a clinical complement to Candace Pert's "Molecules of Emotion", which is largely biochemical. In Benson's own words: `the entire book [is] about the fact that beliefs have physical repercussions [and] that the human spirit [is] influential in the treatment and prevention of illnesses.' The patient, the caregiver and the relationship between the two are all considered important. There is sharp criticism of the American (and, by implication, of the British) medical care system for its enthusiasm for change, and for its heavy reliance on new technologies and drugs. Benson does not suggest that these new techniques should not be used, only that caregivers should not lose sight of the emotional, subjective feelings and beliefs of the patients.
These beliefs may involve a benevolent God, or an awareness of some kind of overarching spirituality, or simply a patient's belief that they were going to get well, perhaps by having been given placebo medication. Whatever the source of inspiration, the patient's belief in themselves could produce, or at least contribute to, wellness. But the reverse is also true. Belief in a vengeful God, or that one deserved one's ill-health, or that the disease prognosis was hopeless - the nocebo - had a markedly detrimental effect. In this context, Benson distinguishes two types of physiological events: `bottom-up' events where the brain responds to sensory signals or physical interventions, and `top-down' events where the body responds symptomatically to mental images of wellness or illness.
There are nearly 30 pages of References of research papers and books giving details of the clinical settings and experiments producing these results, including several from the world of complementary medicine. Most of the references are American, as we might expect from an American physician, but some British medical publications are included as well. Overall, the book is very readable and informative. It makes a worthy counter to the propaganda disseminated by British obscurantists like Professors David Colquhoun and Richard Dawkins who dismiss alternative medicine and mind-body interaction as imaginative nonsense. This book offers an uplifting, optimistic philosophy of life with the empirical evidence to indicate that such a positive world-view is effective in producing or maintaining health.
Dr Howard A. Jones is the author of The Thoughtful Guide to God (2006) and The Tao of Holism (2008), both published by O Books of Winchester, UK.
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