Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body

Dec 20, 2018 by

Title: Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body
Authors: Jo Marchant
Year: 2016

Quick Summary:
This book dives into the expanding body of research that explores the mysterious world of mind-heals-body. It covers all of the many topics that fall under this umbrella, from placebo effects to religion to hypnosis. And it is all written by a scientist, who alternates between telling the stories of individuals that have benefited from these practices and the research that has evaluated them.

The fact that this book covers a controversial topic and is written by a scientist rapidly piqued my interest, and from the moment I picked it up until the moment I finished it, it did not disappoint. Dr. Marchant does a fantastic job of telling personal stories from people that have tried and/or benefited from various mind-over-body practices. She also meets with the scientists and doctors that are researching those methods. And then she discusses the pros and cons of the existing research.

Of course, I was most interested initially in the discussion on the placebo effect (I can’t help myself, since I work with drugs). I thought that I was already pretty well versed on that topic. But little did I know – there was so much more to learn! From there she kept my full interest as she discussed conditioning, hypnosis, meditation, virtual reality, and even the healing power of belief and religion.

There is something for everyone to learn in this book, especially those that are dealing with a chronic illness and are looking for new (safe) ways to improve their quality of life.

I don’t really have many criticisms for this book. Dr. Marchant did a fantastic job of describing the state of the research on each topic, calling out shortcomings and any potential harms. She kept an incredibly open mind throughout the book, which is often difficult for science-minded individuals to do.  And she expressed no judgment against anyone, no matter how wacky or unconventional their ideas.  

Final Word:
If you are looking to understand the world of Mind Over Body, or you are trying to decide if an unconventional treatment might make sense for you, I highly recommend this book. I learned about areas of research that I did not even know existed and gained a newfound respect for ideas that have long been written off as pseudoscience. I can only hope that there will be enough additional research in this field over the next few years to warrant an updated, expanded edition of this book.

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