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The Mindful Body: Thinking Our Way to Chronic Health – by Dr. Ellen Langer

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Fear not, this is not a “think healing thoughts” New Age sort of book. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.

The most common negative reviews for this on Amazon are that it is too densely packed with scientific studies, and some readers found it hard to get through since they didn’t find it “light reading”.

Counterpoint: this reviewer found it very readable. A lot of it is as accessible as 10almonds content, and a lot is perhaps halfway between 10almonds content in readability, and the studies we cite. So if you’re at least somewhat comfortable reading academic literature, you should be fine.

The author, a professor of psychology (tenured at Harvard since 1981), examines a lot of psychosomatic effect. Psychosomatic effect is often dismissed as “it’s all in your head”, but it means: what’s in your head has an effect on your body, because your brain talks to the rest of the body and directs bodily responses and actions/reactions.

An obvious presentation of this in medicine is the placebo/nocebo effect, but Dr. Langer’s studies (indeed, many of the studies she cites are her own, from over the course of her 40-year career) take it further and deeper, including her famous “Counterclockwise” study in which many physiological markers of aging were changed (made younger) by changing the environment that people spent time in, to resemble their youth, and giving them instructions to act accordingly while there.

In the category of subjective criticism: the book is not exceptionally well-organized, but if you read for example a chapter a day, you’ll get all the ideas just fine.

Bottom line: if you want a straightforward hand-holding “how-to” guide, this isn’t it. But it is very much information-packed with a lot of ideas and high-quality science that’s easily applicable to any of us.

Click here to check out The Mindful Body, and indeed grow your chronic good health!

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