MIND AS HEALER, MIND AS SLAYER by Kenneth R. Pelletier


Email this review


Neal Miller's biofeedback experiments with hypertension patients, Illich's emphasis on patient responsibility, and a host of books which recommend Doing Something--rather than taking disease lying down--are converging rays brought neatly into focus in this scholarly work on ""holistic"" medicine. Kenneth Pelletier, a research psychologist at the University of California and director of a psychosomatic medicine center in Oakland, feels that the present predicament regarding health care is that ""people have been killing themselves by failing to alter self-destructive life-style habits."" Bad diet, lack of exercise, reliance on drugs or tobacco are cited as contributing factors, but his main emphasis is on the role of stress in the onset or exacerbation of major illnesses. Inappropriate responses to stress lower the body's immunological defenses, for example, and hence may help trigger cancer. Personality traits interact with familial and environmental factors so that it is not a simple case of cause and effect. But to say yes, there is a matter of serf-selection, there is the placebo effect, there are patient-doctor interactions, does not deny the value of what Pelletier recommends. He describes meditation, autogenic training, and biofeedback as the major avenues which can be explored in gaining self-knowledge and with it, a return toward homeostatic balance. He deplores weekend/group/instant awareness cults; indeed he makes it abundantly clear that no technique he describes is simple or fast. It is this reasoned approach, with appropriate cautions and caveats, that make this a sensible, sophisticated treatment of a controversial subject.

Pub Date: March 21st, 1977
Publisher: Delacorte