A cancer-surviving lawyer discusses the evolution of scientific inquiry and value of a holistic approach to life and wellness in this debut nonfiction work.
Spiegel’s interest in what he calls “the wellness movement” is both personal and professional. As a child, he was told that his frequent stomach troubles were possibly psychosomatic, and the idea that the mind played a part in one’s health resonated with him. Later, as an attorney and entrepreneur, he alerted investors to the fact that people in general were getting more proactive about their own wellness. He also talks about his own recovery from lung cancer, his intervention to help his son, and the disease-focused treatment of his late father-in-law. He weaves these stories into a wide-ranging discussion about the necessity of “blurring” lines to achieve “wholeness”: “This applies to formal lines, like definitions of drugs and foods and cosmetics, as well as to fuzzy lines, like aspects of our selves.” Along the way, Spiegel takes readers through many scientific milestones, including a 1784 royal commission that dismissed mesmerism as mere imagination; he notes the irony that the power of imagination would soon spark a revolution that would topple royal authority. He also celebrates the achievements of such figures as Shakespeare and the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot and urges readers to seek their own “proper exercise, diet and emotional balance” to create “a personal journey to a new age of awareness.” Spiegel, who won honors at Brown University for his undergraduate history thesis, brings a scholar’s passion to this tour de force narrative. It’s occasionally dizzying in its references but also engaging and thought-provoking in the manner of some of Stephen Jay Gould’s and Camille Paglia’s works. Although some readers may be surprised at the fact that the book doesn’t cover many tangible aspects of diet and exercise, they will still find it to be an interesting amalgam of ideas centered on the concept of wholeness.
An intriguing, idiosyncratic tour through humanity’s stumbling but progressive journey toward wellness.