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Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 19, 2009

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, May 19, 2009
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (May 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345502043
  • ASIN: B004NSVE9Q
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,300,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Ellen Langer offers us brilliant insights into subtleties that hold us back in life, and shows the way to shining new possibilities. Counterclockwise will change the way you see and think.” — Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., author Emotional Intelligence and Ecological Intelligence

Counterclockwise makes a strong case for the influence of expectation and belief on how our bodies function, on how we heal, and even how we age.  Ellen Langer presents fascinating scientific data to support this view and argues convincingly that we should learn to take greater control of our health through the practice of mindfulness. Her research is innovative and empowering.”—Andrew Weil, M.D.

“Ellen Langer’s work has been an inspiration to me for years. Counterclockwise, her latest book, will change the way you think about your health — for the better. It’s simply fabulous.” —Christiane Northrup, MD, author The Secret Pleasures of Menopause and The Wisdom of Menopause

"Awareness-mindfulness-is the first step in healing. In Counterclockwise, Dr. Ellen Langer eloquently describes how becoming more aware of our beliefs and expectations allows us to powerfully transform our lives for the better. A pioneering, beautifully-written book." —Dean Ornish, M.D.

“Take a smart, creative social scientist, without any respect for conventional wisdom and you get Ellen Langer. She is a fantastic storyteller, and Counterclockwise is a fascinating story about the unexpected ways in which our minds and bodies are connected. More importantly, Counterclockwise shows how a better understanding of this relationship can lead to a better life.”—Dan Ariely, Ph.D., author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions

Counterclockwise presents a new way to think about lifelong health and aging. Read this most important book to improve your quality of life at any age.” —Deepak Chopra

Counterclockwise is a gem–a book that is equally practical and philosophical without seeming to be either, and one that makes you feel better—more conscious and more prepared–about growing old, even if you weren't feeling bad about it in the first place. There is no one thinking more creatively about sickness and health than Ellen Langer, and she shares what she knows here with uncommon felicity.”
— Sue Halpern, author of Can’t Remember What I Forgot: The Good News from the Front Lines of Memory Research

“Dr. Langer’s work provides fascinating insight into the body-mind connection. She shows how changing our minds changes our bodies to optimize our health and performance as we get older." —Jill Bolte Taylor, author, My Stroke of Insight

About the Author

Ellen J. Langer is the author of eleven books, including the international bestseller Mindfulness, which has been translated into fifteen languages, and more than two hundred research articles. She is the recipient of, among other numerous awards and honors, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest from the American Psychological Association, the Award for Distinguished Contributions of Basic Science to the Application of Psychology from the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology, and the Adult Development and Aging Distinguished Research Achievement Award from the American Psychological Association. Langer’s trailblazing experiments in social psychology have earned her inclusion in The New York Times Magazine’s “Year in Ideas” issue and will soon be the subject of a major motion picture. A member of the psychology department at Harvard University and a painter, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

Professor Langer's research studies prove every point she makes.
Jan Hively
Langer suggests that mindfulness makes us more optimistic because we are open and attentive to possibilities, and that this in turn facilitates recovery.
Dr. Michael Hogan
I read it with great interest and agree with the author on several points.
Dave Bennett

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Hackett on July 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This challenging and insightful book will likely transform the way you view medicine and help you change from a passive recipient to an active and informed participant in the care of your own health. Definitely worth reading. Warning: if you have already read Dr. Langer's previous works such as Mindfulness, the general message of this book may be a little redundant. Still, it never hurts to be reminded of good advice (and to be fair, Dr. Langer has never before taken her message about the benefits of a mindful life and applied it to the field of medicine to such an extensive degree).
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By John Adams on June 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In Counterclockwise, Ellen Langer provides a revolutionary perspective on the topics of health and aging. Langer grabs your attention with eloquent philosophical anecdotes, and then drives her main point home with (very accessible) explanations of shocking scientific studies. No matter who you are (student, doctor, regular dude), this book will change the way you think about health and medicine. It's a great read.
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123 of 146 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Michael Hogan on June 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Michael Hogan, National University of Ireland, Galway:

This review is based on my reading of all 4 of Ellen Langer's books, which I was inspired to read after meeting Ellen in Harvard recently.


Ellen Langer is one of the most vivacious women I have ever met. Upon arriving to meet her in Harvard's William James Hall, I was actually extremely ill, but mindlessly ignoring the symptoms. The painful and yet irrelevant swelling in my right leg and the weak and feverish state that led me to sleep through a very stimulating lecture by Daniel Dennett, was in fact a serious blood infection that would later result in my hospitalization. Little did I know that my conversation with Ellen Langer would be the thing that completely transformed my hospital experience from a potentially stressful, painful nuisance into a very interesting and rewarding experience. And notwithstanding the fact that I could hardly talk, in our short walk from Ellen's office to the Harvard clinic (where Ellen was going to get a cut in her hand seen to, the cause of which she transformed into a very interesting story) we designed three experiments and I experienced firsthand, in vivo, decades of research on social and developmental psychology, and on mindfulness, creativity and decision-making.

To understand the transformative power of Ellen Langer's perspective, and to better understand her creative action, I believe it is useful to experience firsthand her version of mindfulness -- the act of noticing new things -- which is actually very easy to practice, if for no other reason than it energizes and engages us and opens us to new possibilities.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Ronald D. Sanfield on October 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ellen Langer, noted Harvard psychologist and author of "Mindfulness" (about 1998-99, maybe earlier) writes this provocative and insightful book about how mindfulness practices can increase one chances for good health, and aging gracefully. I liked this book, though I thought Langer got bogged down in lengthy descriptions of experiments, some of which were either directly the ones from the earlier book, or newer studies of the same ilk.
I would rather have read more of her broad conceptual thinking about the topic, than details of the experiments.
Still, her mission here is compelling and important, especially to aging baby boomers, which includes me, as well as Langer--- both born in 1947. It's worth buying this, and picking it up every once in a while just before you are about to think, "Well, I'm getting older, so of course I feel this (insert physical pain of choice) now." She will prove to you that you can and should have a different attitude, which can directly affect your quality of life. And that is definitely worth the price of this book!
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Becky Browning on May 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility is a mind expanding, enthralling book with implications for living a mindful, happy life. Dr. Langer's experiment of the 1959's living environment is enough to say to us how much we can control in our lives and how much control we give away in many ways because of our often mindless living. The book is a page-turner with its abundance of experimental examples and the very poignant stories of life in nursing homes and excerpts from Dr. Langer's own life experiences. She has made psychological experimental science very accessible to readers and in doing so it compels us to examine the way we live and the choices we make. A very compelling challenge done so well and so empathetically.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jim Clemmer on April 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How old would you be if you didn't know how old your body is? "You're only as old as you feel" is folk wisdom that's almost a cliche. In Counterclockwise, Harvard psychology professor, Ellen Langer, presents powerful evidence showing just how true that is.

Langer's life work is on illusion of control, aging, decision-making, and mindfulness theory. She's published over 200 research articles, six academic books, and won numerous academic honors. Part of her American Psychology Association award states, "...her pioneering work revealed the profound effects of increasing mindful behavior...and offers new hope to millions whose problems were previously seen as unalterable and inevitable. Ellen Langer has demonstrated repeatedly how our limits are of our own making."

Her 1979 pioneering study on aging established her career and is where Counterclockwise draws its title. In this study an experimental group of elderly men were taken to a one week retreat in a detailed recreation of the world of 1959. All their conversations, movies, decor, music, current events and book discussions, photos, newspapers, and the like were as if they are actually living in 1959. A control group of elderly men were taken on a separate retreat to reminisce and talk about what their life was like in 1959. Both groups underwent extensive physical and mental tests before and after their retreats.

The differences were dramatic:

"The experimental group showed greater improvement on joint flexibility, finger length (their arthritis diminished and they were able to straighten their fingers more), and manual dexterity. On intelligence tests, 63 percent of the experimental group improved their scores, compared to only 44 percent of the control group.
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