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Suggestible You: The Curious Science of Your Brain's Ability to Deceive, Transform, and Heal

Suggestible You: The Curious Science of Your Brain's Ability to Deceive, Transform, and Heal

by Erik Vance


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National Geographic's riveting narrative explores the world of placebos, hypnosis, false memories, and neurology to reveal the groundbreaking science of our suggestible minds. Could the secrets to personal health lie within our own brains? Journalist Erik Vance explores the surprising ways our expectations and beliefs influence our bodily responses to pain, disease, and everyday events. Drawing on centuries of research and interviews with leading experts in the field, Vance takes us on a fascinating adventure from Harvard’s research labs to a witch doctor’s office in Catemaco, Mexico, to an alternative medicine school near Beijing (often called “China’s Hogwarts”). Vance’s firsthand dispatches will change the way you think—and feel. 

Expectations, beliefs, and self-deception can actively change our bodies and minds. Vance builds a case for our “internal pharmacy”—the very real chemical reactions our brains produce when we think we are experiencing pain or healing, actual or perceived. Supporting this idea is centuries of placebo research in a range of forms, from sugar pills to shock waves; studies of alternative medicine techniques heralded and condemned in different parts of the world (think crystals and chakras); and most recently, major advances in brain mapping technology. Thanks to this technology, we're learning how we might leverage our suggestibility (or lack thereof) for personalized medicine, and Vance brings us to the front lines of such study.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426217890
Publisher: National Geographic
Publication date: 11/08/2016
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 217,474
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

ERIK VANCE is an award-winning science writer based in California and Mexico City. Raised as a Christian Scientist, he graduated with honors from the Christian Science school, Principia College in 1999 with a degree in biology. After working as a scientist on research projects dealing with dolphin intelligence and coastal ecology, he became an educator and then an environmental consultant. In 2005, he attended UC Santa Cruz’s famed science communication program and discovered a passion for journalism. There he learned that only through compelling characters can stories touch and inspire us. Since then, he has built his career around science-based profiles of inspiring, dedicated, or controversial figures in society. His work has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The New York TimesThe Utne ReaderScientific American, and National Geographic. He is also a contributing editor at Discover magazine.

Table of Contents

Introduction: What Do You Expect? 9

Part 1 Inside the Placebo Effect 20

Chapter 1 Placebos, Storytelling, and the Birth of Modern Medicine 23

Chapter 2 Meet Your Inner Pharmacist 55

Chapter 3 Hunting the Mysterious Placebo Responder 87

Part 2 Your Mind's Parlor Tricks 112

Chapter 4 The Dark Side of Suggestion 115

Chapter 5 You Are Getting Sleepy 141

Chapter 6 Satan Worshippers, Aliens, and Other Memories of Things That Never Happened 169

Part 3 Suggestible Us 200

Chapter 7 Sex, Drugs, and… 203

Chapter 8 Harnessing the Power of Expectation 229

Appendix: Hypnotic Induction Script 247

Acknowledgments 255

Sources 259

About the Author 285

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