Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Beliefby 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
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.
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 conditionsasthma, insomnia, hypertensionin 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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