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Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness Paperback – May 1, 1990


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Delta; Reprint edition (May 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385303122
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385303125
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (220 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, is perhaps the best-known proponent of using meditation to help patients deal with illness. (The somewhat confusing title is from a line in Zorba the Greek in which the title character refers to the ups and downs of family life as "the full catastrophe.") But this book is also a terrific introduction for anyone who has considered meditating but was afraid it would be too difficult or would include religious practices they found foreign. Kabat-Zinn focuses on "mindfulness," a concept that involves living in the moment, paying attention, and simply "being" rather than "doing." While you can practice anything "mindfully," from taking a walk to cleaning your house, Kabat-Zinn presents several meditation techniques that focus the attention most clearly, whether it's on a simple phrase, your breathing, or various parts of your body. The book goes into detail about how hospital patients have either improved their health or simply come to feel better despite their illness by using these techniques, but these meditations can help anyone deal with stress and gain a calmer outlook on life. "When we use the word healing to describe the experiences of people in the stress clinic, what we mean above all is that they are undergoing a profound transformation of view," Kabat-Zinn writes. "Out of this shift in perspective comes an ability to act with greater balance and inner security in the world." --Ben Kallen

From Publishers Weekly

Kabat-Zinn is founder and director of the stress reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and the "full catastrophe" of which he writes is the spectrum of stress in life. His program, in a word, is meditation, rescued from the mire of mysticism that made it trendy in the 1960s. The author focuses on the advantages of employing "practiced mindfulness" to control and calm our responses without blunting our feelings--and a more convincing introduction to the many modes and uses of meditation could hardly be imagined. In personable, enlightening prose, Kabat-Zinn first explains how to develop a meditation schedule, and in later chapters pragmatically applies his plan to the main sources of stress. An impressive middle section clearly marshals scientific and anecdotal evidence relating state of mind to state of health. And while emphasizing meditation's healing potential, Kabat-Zinn makes no sweeping claims, suggesting that the discipline serve not as means but end. Illustrations not seen by PW. BOMC and QPB selection.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, is internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. He is professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and author of numerous books, including Full Catastrophe Living, Arriving at Your Own Door, and Coming to Our Senses.

Customer Reviews

This book could change my life for the better.
Beth PH
The pages I have read are very informative, easy to read and understand so I can practice these techniques.
Joseph Ehrmann
I haven't finished reading it yet but it is a good book.
J. C. Leonard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

576 of 594 people found the following review helpful By C. Sahu on July 18, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have both this book and Kabat-Zinn's other, "Wherever You Go, There You Are." That one is more of a general intro to mindfulness (i.e, concentrating on your breathing as a way to clear your mind and reach a deeper level) meditation. It's written in a more aphoristic style: short and sweet, lots of quotes from Thoreau and various gurus, "try this" exercises at the end of each short chapter. A book you mull over, read in bits, inbetween the recommended practice.
This one is more wordy, a description of what goes on at the Massachusetts General Hospital Pain Reduction Clinic, where Kabat-Zinn uses a combination of (physical) yoga, mindfulness meditation, and something called the "full body scan" (lying down and concentrating on different parts of the body at a time) to help people with serious, stress-related illnesses such as heart disease, back pain, migraines and cancer.
There are instructions on how to do the above; statistical information on how well this program works; descriptions of the types of illnesses they deal with; lots of case studies of typical patients; and some general conclusions that the very insightful Kabat-Zinn has drawn from his work. I hate pop psychology but that's not what's delivered here - these are very real insights, not facile at all, on the damaging stresses of modern life and concrete advice on how to cope with them in such a way as to not get sick.
He says, for instance, that "your pain is not you" - that you can and should separate yourself from the pain, and from the negative feedback voice ("I'm never going to get better," for example) that makes things worse.
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273 of 284 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
I read this book and did not like it. I found it described a life I did not want to know about so I put the book aside having skipped a number of the chapters. Six months later when my wife was admitted to the ER with severe headaches I remembered the central message in this book.
The message is clear and simple, the "bad" times in life are as valid an experience as the "good" be there, be aware,accept,don't wish for better times, don't run away from catastrophe. I was aware and present for the next three weeks, the most important three weeks of my life. I felt so lucky that I had read this book. It could be a lot shorter and more focused but the central message is invaluable.
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156 of 167 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Gorman on July 7, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book eight years ago and I found it to be so valuable that I read it again two years later. To this day, I continue to reference certain chapters from time to time and eight years after first reading it, I continue to practice the techniques I learned from the book.
Grounded in scientific research, Jon Kabat-Zinn explores the connections between mind and body to the point where there is no longer any obvious division between the two. This book offers the reader access to a new way of living that is rooted in mindfulness. The instructions offered are easy to understand. This book is primarily intended for those facing chronic or terminal illness or emotional pain, but it can really benefit a far more general audience - those who want to live their lives more fully.
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127 of 136 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
I've read over a dozen books on anxiety, relaxation, and stress. This book has a totally different approach.Instead of giving specific tips to handle anxiety attacks, it uses a philosophical type of approach which is extremely helpful in combatting stress in the long run. The main activity that is taught is meditation and mindfulness through breathing, sitting, or walking, along with a body scan and yoga exercises. They recommend an 8 week commitment to the exercises. But the last half of the book is even more helpful, with discussions on how to see yourself and your problems differently--to feel in control and a master of the events around you. My anxiety level has gone down tremendously after just reading the book and not beginning the meditation yet. This book is a must for anyone having a hard time facing life's normal circumstances or who sees life pessimistically. And it is even more vital for anyone who is facing health problems and is feeling depressed because of them. This man's approach will be a comfort to me for years to come.
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94 of 100 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is one of the three most powerful books I have read in my ten year effort to rid myself of depression and chronic back pain. The other two were "The Power of Your Subconscious Mind" by Dr. Joseph Murphy and "Healing Back Pain" by Dr. Sarno. As a testament to all of these books, I am now almost completely free of both of these tiresome life-robbers: mental and physical pain. I have never been able to sit down and meditate, but this book taught me to reach a meditative state using the walking meditation, and recently I have started using the body scan while running - it is a superb way to combine exercise and meditation. I received a lot of inspiration from the case studies used in this book, also. The style in which it is written is intelligent, warm, compassionate and friendly. I recommend the book highly. If you are tired of being sick, and are ready to make a commitment to help yourself, this book is essential. I can not stress enough the importance that NUTRITION and EXERCISE have played in my own recovery, but mindfulness and relaxation are crucial as well. I use mindfulness every day now that I have learned the techniques presented in this book. I think anyone who is looking for a better way to live needs to read this book.
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