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Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief
     

Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief

by Herbert Benson, Marg Stark (With)
 
Explores the intersection between objective science & the mystifying power of the human spirit. Shows how affirming beliefs, particularly belief in a higher power, make a critical contribution to our physical health. Dr. Bensons message is that our bodies are wired for God. The key is remembered wellness — a concept that may revolutionize the way health care is

Overview

Explores the intersection between objective science & the mystifying power of the human spirit. Shows how affirming beliefs, particularly belief in a higher power, make a critical contribution to our physical health. Dr. Bensons message is that our bodies are wired for God. The key is remembered wellness — a concept that may revolutionize the way health care is practiced in the Western world. Explains how a Harvard physician became convinced that humans are genetically encoded with a need for & nourishment from faith. Documents that when people call upon faith, they activate neurologic pathways for self-healing.

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.

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)

Meet the Author

Herbert Benson, MD, is the Mind Body Medical Institute Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. He is the author of the mega-bestselling book, The Relaxation Response, as well as ten other trade books. His groundbreaking work established the modern field of mind body medicine. Dr. Benson is the Director Emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

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