Ornish, the bestselling author known for using diet, exercise, and stress management to treat heart disease (Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease), now insists that the most powerful influences on health are love and intimacy. The founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute near San Francisco says he knows of no other factor--""not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery--that has such a major impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness, and premature death from all causes."" After backing up this claim with an impressive review of the literature supporting the healing role of social support and intimacy and the health-damaging consequences of loneliness and isolation, Ornish looks inward and describes his own personal journey to greater openness. He follows these self-revelations with a discussion of intimacy-enhancing strategies. In what is the book's least cohesive chapter, he presents a standard exercise in communication skills and briefly discusses the value of human touch, the meaning of commitment, the practice of meditation, and the role of spiritual practices and psychotherapy in developing the sense of self that is a prerequisite to achieving intimacy. Ornish then inserts a lengthy illustrative anecdote: the case of a patient whose heart disease begins to reverse after he accepts Ornish's urging to open his heart and give up his anger. The second and more compelling half of the book consists of Ornish's conversations on the role of love and intimacy in health and disease with a broad spectrum of thoughtful men and women with different perspectives: a yogi, an intuitive healer, a theologian, a sociologist, a psychologist, and many scientists and physicians. A curious work, loosely structured, sometimes to the point and sometimes rambling, blending scientific findings and personal convictions.
Pub Date: March 11, 1998
Page Count: 304
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1998
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