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The Healing Paradox: A Revolutionary Approach to Treating and Curing Physical and Mental Illness

The Healing Paradox: A Revolutionary Approach to Treating and Curing Physical and Mental Illness

4.5 2
by Steven Goldsmith

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Why does Western medicine fail to cure chronic physical and mental illness? Why do so many treatments and drugs work only for a limited time before eventually losing effectiveness or producing harmful side effects?

Dr. Steven Goldsmith's answer is at once counterintuitive and commonsensical: the root of the problem is our combative approach. Instead of


Why does Western medicine fail to cure chronic physical and mental illness? Why do so many treatments and drugs work only for a limited time before eventually losing effectiveness or producing harmful side effects?

Dr. Steven Goldsmith's answer is at once counterintuitive and commonsensical: the root of the problem is our combative approach. Instead of resisting and fighting our ailments, we should cooperate with and even embrace them. We should look for and apply treatments that are integrated with the causes of illness, not regard illness as an enemy to conquer.

This "hair of the dog" principle is already widely evident in practice. Take, for example, vaccines and inoculations, which are small doses of the microbes that cause the diseases being prevented; the use of the stimulant Ritalin to calm and ground people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; and radiation, which is both a well-known cause of cancer and a well-known method of treating it. These are just a few of Goldsmith's many examples, which he relays in clear, evocative, and thought-provoking language. Perhaps most compelling of all, he explores reasons why this clearly effective principle is ignored by Western medicine.

Drawing on fascinating case studies and personal experiences from his forty-year career as a medical doctor and psychiatrist—as well as abundant clinical, experimental, and public health data that support his seemingly paradoxical assertion—Dr. Goldsmith presents an exciting, revolutionary approach that will change the way you think about medicine and psychotherapy.¶

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Accepted truths about modern medicine are upended in Goldsmith’s provocative work. … Disease is not a thing, he says, so it should not be treated as such; instead, it’s a pattern of dysfunction. What we thought was bad for us is often good, and psychology is the best paradigm for studying how organisms respond to treatment. … [The Healing Paradox is] a psychiatrist’s well-presented point of view on the shortcomings of modern medicine.”

"A fascinating work illustrated throughout with case study examples and public health data, as well as Dr. Goldsmith's own professional experience and expertise as a medical doctor and psychiatrist, The Healing Paradox is exceptionally informative and very well written, making it appropriate for non-specialist general readers with an interest in alternative medicine and mental health issues. With its impressive level of medical scholarship and comprehensive approach, The Healing Paradox is also very highly recommended for community and academic library collections as well."
—Midwest Book Review

"Dr. Goldsmith is a medical insider with a truly revolutionary message: the very principles and assumptions that underlie conventional medicine are contributing  to its failures. His solution is equally revolutionary.… An engrossing and timely book."
—Amy L. Lansky, PhD, author of Impossible Cure and Active Consciousness

"… stunning in both its scope and its relevance to anyone who wants to go beyond superficial symptom management … a work of timeless value for all who are eager to understand real health."
—Scott Shannon, MD, author of Mental Health for the Whole Child and former president of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine

"An indispensible and in-depth examination of perhaps the least known, yet most fundamental, principle of human healing.... Essential reading."
—Larry Malerba, DO, author of Green Medicine

"... eloquent, original, fascinating."
—Hyla Cass, MD, author of 8 Weeks to Vibrant Health

"... a thought-provoking book, one that urges readers to rethink, on a fundamental level, the merits of allopathic medicine.... An engaging read."
—Robert Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic

"... a gold mine of thought-provoking insight."
—C. Norman Shealy, MD, PhD, author of Energy Medicine and founding president of the American Holistic Medical Association

"Dr. Goldsmith's fine book challenges the orthodox paradigm of biomedicine and argues for a radical revision of medical thinking."
—James Lake, MD, author of Textbook of Integrative Mental Health Care and chair of the International Network of Integrative Mental Health

Kirkus Reviews
A homeopathic practitioner's philosophy of disease and wellness, which blames chronic illness on Western medicine's views of living beings as creations of physics and chemistry, functionally equivalent to inanimate things. For treating acute physical problems, Goldsmith accepts the efficacy of allopathic and anti-pathic approaches. But for mental illness and persistent physical illness, he sees the natural tendency of creatures to resist foreign invaders--e.g., diseases, pharmaceuticals or suggestions from psychiatrists--as more of a problem for the antagonistic, militarized approach of drug-based interventions. To utilize natural resistance instead of fighting it, Goldsmith recommends looking at the paradoxical, reverse psychology approaches derived from the work of Milton Erikson and Alfred Adler, which redirect a patient's unconscious patterns of resistance into conscious behavior to eradicate underlying problems. Goldsmith relates some of these same approaches to the basic tenets of homeopathy, such as treatment that focuses on the patient rather than the disease and that sees symptoms as teachers about the illness rather than as the core problem to be destroyed. He cites immunization as Western medicine's most significant foray into the paradoxical idea that a harmful body or substance--when in large doses--can be helpful in small doses by using the body's own resistance mechanisms to help itself; he then extends this discussion into an explanation of homeopathic methods, eventually connecting the idea of a low dose to that of an infinitesimal dose. Ultimately, his call, directed at family medicine and primary care practitioners, is to treat healing and wellness not as hard science but as soft science that acknowledges the role of the individual in his disease and his cure. "[D]issecting medicine's presumptions of scientific rationality…reveals a radically different, less commonsensical approach to healing," Goldsmith says. "But what seems to make the least sense, it turns out, may make the most sense." His clarity of thought and cleverness in moving the discussion of homeopathy from the near-mystical to the methodological makes this argument worth reading even if it's still difficult to stomach for the more scientifically minded. A compelling, well-presented though not entirely convincing argument for a more holistic view; after all, as the author says, people aren't cars, and bacteria aren't Nazis.

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North Atlantic Books
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Penguin Random House Publisher Services
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Meet the Author

STEVEN GOLDSMITH received his MD at the Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons. In the last forty years he has practiced medicine, psychiatry, psychotherapy, and homeopathy and has held faculty and staff positions at the Boston University, Tufts University, and New York University Schools of Medicine. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he maintains a practice that emphasizes natural solutions for mental and physical illness.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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The Healing Paradox: A Revolutionary Approach to Treating and Curing Physical and Mental Illness 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
JohnWalsh More than 1 year ago
I approached this book (and I retain this approach now that I have finished reading it) in a spirit of critical openness. I have, after all, lived for years in countries where many people turn first to oriental rather than western medicine and where even the best educated people profess belief in all kinds of supernatural occurrences - homeopathy is not to be equated with the supernatural but the two do both challenge existing scientific thinking. Comparing our knowledge of physics, chemistry and biology with what was known and taught when I was a boy reveals huge differences. The simple forms of causality we were brought to understand in the past no longer apply in a universe of quantum mechanics. Besides which, if homeopathy really does work in some cases, then surely that must be a good thing since it releases people from the misery and imprisonment of ill-health and that is a goal much to be willed. So can it be believed? In my home country, the National Health Service (one of the wonders of the modern world) provides funding for homeopathy in the teeth of the anger of many physicians, although with the support of the Prince of Wales. Goldsmith provides examples from his own practice, which specifically deals with the complex issues of mental health, as well as some papers in the peer-reviewed academic journals. He talks about the epistemological difficulties involved in persuading well-trained people to believe something counter-intuitive and he is right to do so: unfortunately, the way he assembles his argument does not really help in this process. The assemblage is reasonable enough but relies to too great an extent on the fact that exceptions or outliers suggest that an underlying premise should be rejected. Instead, an attempt to explain anomalies within the existing framework should take place. I am aware, as I write this, that attempting to explain any anomalous exceptions to a rule is not the way to create a best-seller. Nevertheless, I would have preferred a little more of this.  Overall, this is either a very well-written book or a well-written book with an excellent editor, showing a great deal of sensible and erudite thinking exposed by such details as the choice of epigraphs, the use of pronouns and the structure and progression of the argument. I cannot imagine a much better defence for homeopathy and its virtues than this. It is thoughtful, eloquent and persuasive. It is also worthy of a wide audience and I hope the author, editor and publisher achieve this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Healing Paradox provides a bright look at modern medicine while offering a new perspective. Why are many ill despite the progressive nature of modern medicine? Why does the logical approach to treatment and recovery sometimes fail? Under Medicine’s watch, the Western world has become an “…increasingly exhausted, obese, lame, chronically pained, wheezing, neurotic, and medication-addicted population.” In this analytical debut, Dr. Goldsmith challenges conventional thoughts regarding medical treatment, while introducing a never before discussed paradox. Arguably, it seems natural to combat illness with a fight—and essentially eliminate it through this process; however Goldstein shows that working with, rather than against, whatever ails your body is the way to go. So why are many still sick? The answer may be as simple as this: medicine after the ninetieth century moved from a harmonistic process to a state of disharmony, thus involving treatments and substances that do not balance with the external world. The author argues that it’s human natural to separate disease from our inner-selves; yet, much like other notions we share about disease, this “personified adversary is an illusion.” To wish to obliterate a disease (and actually do it) is much like killing or suppressing parts of ourselves. The question is: could it be possible that embracing illness is part of maintaining good health? Perhaps becoming well also involves working with illness, not against it. This new look into the dichotomy between natural and unnatural healing treatments is extremely thought-provoking. Dr. Goldsmith offers vast clinical and epidemiological data, experimental results, and numerous case studies to solidify his theory, and suggest that a new approach to modern medicine would be beneficial. What most MD’s (and even ourselves) may think is a terrible approach to recovery—just might be the cure. Overall this is a great book, recommended to anyone looking for alternatives to “traditional” medical treatments and schools of thought. The author does an incredible job uncovering a possible truth and breakthrough within the world of holistic medicine.