Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief

Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief

by Herbert Benson
     
 

In this life-changing new book, Timeless Healing, Herbert Benson, MD, explores the intersection between objective science and the mystifying power of the human spirit. In Timeless Healing, Dr. Benson shows how affirming beliefs, particularly belief in a higher power, make a critical contribution to our physical health. In essence, Dr. Benson's message is that our… See more details below

Overview

In this life-changing new book, Timeless Healing, Herbert Benson, MD, explores the intersection between objective science and the mystifying power of the human spirit. In Timeless Healing, Dr. Benson shows how affirming beliefs, particularly belief in a higher power, make a critical contribution to our physical health. In essence, Dr. Benson's message is that our bodies are wired for God. The key to Timeless Healing is what Dr. Benson calls remembered wellness - a concept that may revolutionize the way health care is practiced in the Western world. A Harvard physician who has conducted scientific research for thirty years, Dr. Benson explains how he became convinced that humans are genetically encoded with a need for and nourishment from faith. He documents that when people call upon faith, they activate neurologic pathways for self-healing. Detailing the scientific evidence, Dr. Benson clearly shows how anyone, along with a caring physician or healer, can tap into a reservoir of remembered wellness to affect and cure up to 90 percent of medical complaints. Acknowledging Western medicine's deficits when it comes to appreciating faith and the human spirit, Dr. Benson does not dismiss modern health care out of hand. Instead, he proposes practical ways in which patients and the medical community can make faith an integral part of health care, and he explores the merits of unconventional medicine. He proposes a balanced treatment approach drawing upon all components of health caremedications, medical procedures, and self-care that includes remembered wellness.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Apropos to the world of modern medicine, Shakespeare wrote, "Oft expectation fails, and most oft there, Where it promises most." To this arena of lofty expectation and technological wizardry, Benson (Harvard Medical Sch.) again explores the healing power of the human psyche. As in his The Wellness Book (LJ 3/1/92), Benson illustrates via exhaustive case studies and anonymous examples the power of what has been erroneously labeled the placebo effect. Further, he cites numerous instances where the intersection of prayer and meditation have stemmed the tide of pain or disability, illuminating for the uninitiated the raw potency of the human will. Benson's academic credentials lend credence to his authoritative voice as he "demythologizes meditation" (says one early reviewer) as well as the world of wholistic healing. Somewhat overblown at times, Benson's previous works go far to cover much of what is reiterated here. Purchase where interest in spirituality and wholistic medicine is high or as an initial foray into this area.-Sandra Collins, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Lib.
William Beatty
Benson pursued the relationships between medicine and belief for years before founding Harvard's Mind/Body Institute in 1988. Here, with Stark's writing help, he reports many scientific studies of this relationship, of the placebo effect, and especially of the "remembered wellness" (i.e., desire for health) effect. His three-legged stool of health and well-being--pharmaceuticals, surgery and other procedures, and self-care--helps keep him focused as he explores the reasons for the occurrence of remembered wellness and the mechanisms by which it acts. Many physicians do not want to admit the effectiveness of remembered wellness because it cannot be seen or quantified, but Benson points out that only 15 percent of medical treatments are based on "reliable medical evidence" and that emotions, feelings, and traditions must be borne in mind. In the last chapters, he looks particularly at the roles that religion, faith, and spiritual experiences play in healing.
Kirkus Reviews
An elaboration, a rehash even, of Benson's Beyond the Relaxation Response: How to Harness the Healing Power of Your Beliefs (1984).

Benson uses the analogy of a three-legged stool to describe how health and well-being rely on the balanced application of (1) pharmaceuticals, (2) surgery and procedures, and (3) self-care. Greater utilization of self-care has been his career focus, and here he recounts his discovery of the relaxation response, his research into the placebo effect (renamed here "remembered wellness"), and his identification of "the faith factor." Benson proposes that religious convictions enhance the relaxation response dramatically. He contends that as a species aware of its own mortality, human beings are "wired for God," that is, through evolution we have become genetically programmed to have faith in some absolute power. Further, he argues that affirmative beliefs, especially faith in God, have many positive effects on health. In 60 to 90 percent of doctor visits, he says, remembered wellness and other self-care techniques can be the treatment of choice, and he lists numerous specific conditions—asthma, insomnia, hypertension—in which studies show that belief plays a major role. The flip side of the coin is that negative thoughts elicit powerful negative effects, and he offers some ideas on dealing with these. Benson's utilitarian approach to religion may offend thoughtful believers, and his spiritual approach to healing may not sit well with the scientific crowd. An appendix plugging a video and 17 audiotapes on relaxation available from Benson's Mind/Body Medical Institute gives the whole project a self-serving air.

For those familiar with Benson's work, there's not much new here.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684814414
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
03/05/1996
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.45(w) x 9.54(h) x 1.13(d)

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