ANATOMY OF AN ILLNESS AS PERCEIVED BY THE PATIENT: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration by Norman Cousins
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ANATOMY OF AN ILLNESS AS PERCEIVED BY THE PATIENT: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fifteen years ago, afflicted with a degenerative connective tissue disease, Cousins checked out of a hospital and into a hotel where, with his doctor's support, he took charge of his own treatment -- a highly irregular program based on strong motivation, Marx Brothers movies, and heavy doses of vitamin C. Against the odds, Cousins reversed the course of his illness and won approval from many in the medical profession with the clean, sober nature of his approach. As chronicled here (in an expansion of his widely distributed New England Journal of Medicine article), the components of his holistic program are experimental but systematic, predicated on several increasingly respectable, research-supported variables: the primacy of patient attitude, the quality of the doctor/patient partnership, and a belief in the body's natural healing powers. Cousins maintains that a strong will to live significantly influenced his recovery; that positive feelings overall contributed to the healing process (his sedimentation rate dropped measurably -- and held -- after sustained laughter); and that vitamin C has medicinal -- not miraculous -- properties for his condition and several (but by no means all) others. And he strengthens his credibility by exploring the most current findings, citing the corroborations of eminent mainstream researchers (Stone on vitamin C therapies, Shapiro on placebos) and reporting on many related cases. The longtime Saturday Review editor, always articulate, is cautionary in his appreciation of the less orthodox modes of treatment (acupuncture has more validity than astrology) and thoroughly sensible in tracing the boundaries of personal responsibility. This work, like his earlier article, firmly explores ""the chemistry of the will to live"" and should attract a healthy following.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 1979
Publisher: Norton