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MEANING AND MEDICINE by Larry Dossey

MEANING AND MEDICINE

A Doctor's Tales of Breakthrough and Healing

By Larry Dossey

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1991
ISBN: 0-553-07869-0
Publisher: Bantam

 Highly readable essays exploring the mind-body connection by physician Dossey, who brings to the holistic health movement the experience of a practicing internist and the soul of a poet. Dossey sees illness as containing an inner code of meaning, perception of which can change the body's response to disease for better or for worse. Drawing on his own experience with patients as well as on the medical literature, he provides anecdotes and research reports to support his position that the mind plays a powerful role in healing. Dossey begins by offering examples of the power of meaning, ranging from voodoo death to the lethal impact of a careless doctor's spoken word. The stories are well told, but there's not much new here. The author then shifts gears, though, looking at the human body in novel ways. He examines the limitations of viewing the body as a machine and suggests a different metaphor: the body as music. The trick, Dossey says, is to hear the music, to understand the body as a ``glorious composition.'' Finally, he extends the concept of mind from an individual one to an unbounded (i.e., nonlocal and nontemporal) one. Viewing mind in this way enables him to accept such irrational concepts as miracles, psychic healing, diagnosis and healing at a distance, and healing through prayer. Indeed, he outlines three eras of medicine--the first is traditional medicine, the second mind-body (or alternative) medicine, and the third accepts and builds on both of those but includes irrational, or ``paradoxical,'' healing. Dossey's reflections will please true believers and fans of Bernie S. Siegel or Deepak Chopra, but, though well written, they lack the rigor likely necessary to win many converts.