The Cure Within: A History of Mind-Body Medicine

W. W. Norton & Company
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"A splendid history of mind-body medicine...a book that desperately needed to be written." —Jerome Groopman, New York Times

Is stress a deadly disease on the rise in modern society? Can mind-body practices from the East help us become well? When it comes to healing, we believe we must look beyond doctors and drugs; we must look within ourselves. Faith, relationships, and attitude matter.

But why do we believe such things? From psychoanalysis to the placebo effect to meditation, this vibrant cultural history describes mind-body healing as rooted in a patchwork of stories, allowing us to make new sense of our suffering and to rationalize new treatments and lifestyles.

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About the author

Anne Harrington is the Franklin L. Ford Professor of the History of Science and faculty dean of Pforzheimer House at Harvard University. She is the author of four books, including Mind Fixers and The Cure Within. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Additional Information

Publisher
W. W. Norton & Company
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Published on
Feb 16, 2009
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Pages
354
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ISBN
9780393071085
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Language
English
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Genres
Body, Mind & Spirit / Healing / General
Medical / Alternative & Complementary Medicine
Philosophy / Mind & Body
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Reveals the precise correspondences between specific emotional and mental tensions and the illnesses and traumas of the body

• Explains how physical complaints--energetic disturbances that lead to ailments or chronic conditions--are your soul speaking to you

• Shows how the body part affected as well as which side it is on pinpoints what your soul is trying to tell you and what you need to work through emotionally

• Explains the Yin-Yang energetic correspondences of the body: the Yang axis of the shoulders, the Yin axis of the hips, and the Yin-Yang maternal/paternal connections

Our body speaks. Physical complaints--allergies, fever, sore throat, inflammation, cysts, backache, migraines, sinus problems, sciatica, dizzy spells, and even cancer--are all signs of deep tensions inside of us are seeking expression. This is why, given the same genetic foundation, one individual develops a specific illness while another remains in good health.

Drawing on 20 years of experience and several thousand individual consultations with patients, Michel Odoul shows the “proof” of this lies in the clear correspondences between emotional and mental tensions and specific ailments. The author reveals how every illness or trauma is a signal of incredible precision: The part of the body affected pinpoints what your inner being is trying to tell you and what you need to work through emotionally. Providing a reference grid of body-mind connections, he explains, for example, how skin conditions reflect difficulties with aggression from the outside world and knee problems indicate inflexibility or tension in relationships. He shows not only how each side of the body has specific meanings and connections to emotions, relationships, and family but also how the upper and lower halves of the body have specific connections--together forming four quadrants with unique Yin-Yang balances, where Yin represents emotional issues and Yang represents action/inaction. He also explores the role of the meridians of Chinese medicine in distributing emotional and mental energy throughout the body.

Offering keys to decipher what the body is trying to tell us, the author shows that we can learn to see physical ailments not as something caused by chance or fate but as a message from our heart and soul. By releasing the energies and patterns they point to, we can return to a state of health and forward movement on our path through life.
Mind Fixers tells the history of psychiatry’s quest to understand the biological basis of mental illness and asks where we need to go from here.

In Mind Fixers, Anne Harrington, author of The Cure Within, explores psychiatry’s repeatedly frustrated struggle to understand mental disorder in biomedical terms. She shows how the stalling of early twentieth century efforts in this direction allowed Freudians and social scientists to insist, with some justification, that they had better ways of analyzing and fixing minds.

But when the Freudians overreached, they drove psychiatry into a state of crisis that a new “biological revolution” was meant to alleviate. Harrington shows how little that biological revolution had to do with breakthroughs in science, and why the field has fallen into a state of crisis in our own time.

Mind Fixers makes clear that psychiatry’s waxing and waning biological enthusiasms have been shaped not just by developments in the clinic and lab, but also by a surprising range of social factors, including immigration, warfare, grassroots activism, and assumptions about race and gender. Government programs designed to empty the state mental hospitals, acrid rivalries between different factions in the field, industry profit mongering, consumerism, and an uncritical media have all contributed to the story as well.

In focusing particularly on the search for the biological roots of schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder, Harrington underscores the high human stakes for the millions of people who have sought medical answers for their mental suffering. This is not just a story about doctors and scientists, but about countless ordinary people and their loved ones.

A clear-eyed, evenhanded, and yet passionate tour de force, Mind Fixers recounts the past and present struggle to make mental illness a biological problem in order to lay the groundwork for creating a better future, both for those who suffer and for those whose job it is to care for them.

Millions of people worldwide swear by such therapies as acupuncture, herbal cures, and homeopathic remedies. Indeed, complementary and alternative medicine is embraced by a broad spectrum of society, from ordinary people, to scientists and physicians, to celebrities such as Prince Charles and Oprah Winfrey. In the tradition of Michael Shermers Why People Believe Weird Things and Robert Parks's Voodoo Science, Barker Bausell provides an engaging look at the scientific evidence for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and at the logical, psychological, and physiological pitfalls that lead otherwise intelligent people--including researchers, physicians, and therapists--to endorse these cures. The books ultimate goal is to reveal not whether these therapies work--as Bausell explains, most do work, although weakly and temporarily--but whether they work for the reasons their proponents believe. Indeed, as Bausell reveals, it is the placebo effect that accounts for most of the positive results. He explores this remarkable phenomenon--the biological and chemical evidence for the placebo effect, how it works in the body, and why research on any therapy that does not factor in the placebo effect will inevitably produce false results. By contrast, as Bausell shows in an impressive survey of research from high-quality scientific journals and systematic reviews, studies employing credible placebo controls do not indicate positive effects for CAM therapies over and above those attributable to random chance. Here is not only an entertaining critique of the strangely zealous world of CAM belief and practice, but it also a first-rate introduction to how to correctly interpret scientific research of any sort. Readers will come away with a solid understanding of good vs. bad research practice and a healthy skepticism of claims about the latest miracle cure, be it St. John's Wort for depression or acupuncture for chronic pain.
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