MIND-BODY DECEPTIONS by Steven L. Dubovsky


The Psychosomatics of Everyday Life
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 An ambitious and confoundingly uneven exploration of psychobiological interdependence. Dubovsky (Psychiatry and Medicine/Univ. of Colorado Medical School) is onto something--but not the rhetorically loaded ``deceptions'' of the title, into which frame the text is force-fit at some cost to clarity and credibility. The business of the book is examining mind-body connections and their implications for health and health care by explaining psychodynamic and biochemical actions and interactions and exposing prevailing misconceptions and their ramifications. It opens with padded conventional wisdom asserting the overlap of mental and physical processes, then usefully introduces the phenomena of somatization and psychosomatic illness as physiological expressions of emotional pain. In the gray area of depression, all ambiguities are veiled by a confident schematic rendering of the intimate correlation between mind and body systems at the level of the synapse: If maladaptive emotional behavior becomes automatic after repeated episodes of stress (a process known as ``kindling''), healthy brain circuits atrophy. That elucidation of brain biochemistry, like the descriptions of the workings of the cardiovascular and immunological systems in the later section on heart disease and cancer, presupposes a degree of scientific literacy discontinuous with the popular tenor and thrust of the psychological models and the casual assimilation of supportive research; the result is at once overtechnical and oversimplifying. Dubovsky writes sentiently, however, about psychosocial resources for medical patients, and saliently about how the managed-care industry both reflects and perpetuates the traditional mind-body dichotomy. At his judicious best--respecting the multiplicity of psychobiological events and responses, or cautioning against the very cognitive leaps he seems subtly prone to make--he does contribute to the substance and dimension of a fascinating discussion. For the shelf well-stocked with other perspectives.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-393-02943-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1997