Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body

Have you ever felt a surge of adrenaline after narrowly avoiding an accident? Salivated at the sight (or thought) of a sour lemon? Felt turned on just from hearing your partner’s voice? If so, then you’ve experienced how dramatically the workings of your mind can affect your body.

In Cure, award-winning science writer Jo Marchant travels the world to meet the physicians, patients and researchers on the cutting edge of this new world of medicine. We learn how meditation protects against depression and dementia, how social connections increase life expectancy and how patients who feel cared for recover from surgery faster. Drawing on the very latest research, Marchant explores the vast potential of the mind’s ability to heal, lays out its limitations and explains how we can make use of the findings in our own lives. With clarity and compassion, Cure points the way towards a system of medicine that treats us not simply as bodies but as human beings.

I’ve talked before about how big an effect anxiety and depression can have on the body. There are the obvious changes, like fatigue and a racing heart, but there are other things too, like joint pain and nausea that really mess things up sometimes. I was really pleased to receive Marchant’s book because she is writing about that exact relationship–psychology meets physiology. What effect does depression have on the immune system, and visa versa?

I found Cure to be incredibly interesting. She starts by exploring the Placebo Effect and how it works surprisingly well, even when the recipient knows they are taking a placebo. Then Marchant covers a variety of topics from meditation to electrotherapy. Many disorders pop up over and over in her chapters:  autism, MS, anxiety/chronic stress. She uses short anecdotes and case studies as examples, which makes everything super easy to understand.

Cure is definitely a book for those already interested and possessing at least an amateur’s knowledge of psychology and the workings of the brain. Because I am that person, I liked it immensely and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone wanting to study more on the connection between the brain and immune system.

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Blogging for Books provided a copy of this book for an unbiased review. Released Jan 19.

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After I wrote this review, Kati Morton posted a video about this exact subject–the mental illness connection to physiology. I couldn’t resist including it here.

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