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VINE VOICEon November 18, 2002
One of the biggest chapters in this book summarizes the studies showing how closeness to other people is good for your health. Ornish runs a clinic for people who have had a heart attack. And his clinic was the first to show that heart disease can actually be reversed. Doctors used to believe, up until very recently, that you can't reverse heart disease. You may be able to slow it down a little, but once your arteries were clogged, it was gospel that you couldn't unclog them. Ornish showed that you can. They use diet and exercise and...teaching people how to become closer to the people they love. And that increased closeness is a big part of the patient's improvement in health.
These men (usually) have a heart attack and their doctor tells them they don't have long to live. They're scared, of course. They come to Ornish's clinic and he tells them they need to learn to be close to people or they're going to die! For the first time in their lives, these men become interested in relationships!
I read Love and Survival right after reading the book, Brain Sex, where I discovered that men aren't naturally as interested in relationships as women. Even two- or three-day old babies show this difference. A female baby will look much longer at a human face than at an object. A baby boy is equally interested in objects and people. Extend that interest out over a lifetime and you have women whose lives are relationship-centered and men who don't have time for relationships because they're busy with other things. Then I read in Ornish's book what it takes for men to finally become interested in getting closer to people: The threat of death! So they get interested, and they improve their relationships, and they learn how to become close to people. Some time later they come back to Ornish and report that they are happier than they've ever been. Of course. We all know being close to people is the most important thing in the world and it's the one thing that can't be peeled away. When people are dying, on the battlefield or deathbed or in some survival situation, and they know they are going to die, the one thing people say is, "Tell my wife I love her." Or husband. Kids. The people who are close to you are what really matter. And getting close to them.
This book struck me like a revelation. I have been interested in how to get along with people and how to get people to like me and how to persuade people to my point of view, but I had never realized the value of really being close to people. I knew relationships were important but I had missed the point! This book has totally changed the way I've been interacting with people, and you know what? I've never been happier! Seriously.
Ornish gives you some good ideas about HOW to get closer to people. He gives you some practical steps to take. I'm the author of the book, Self-Help Stuff That Works, and I'll tell you something: Ornish's book contains quite a bit of stuff that works to bring you closer to the people you love.
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I had read Dr. Ornish's books about diet and health, and found them to be very helpful. Then, I read this one. This is by far the most important book that he has written, because how we handle our relationships with others is more important to our health than even what we eat and how we exercise. A little of this information was familiar to me from reading the New York Times Science section, but most of it was not. Clearly the biggest disease of our modern culture is our estrangement from each other. For most of history, we lived with others in small, intimate groups. Now that the population is much larger, we live in large groups with no close relationships. Even our families are losing that intimacy. This book puts the priorities back where they should be. Having close relationships with others comes first. This book is a blessing to us all. Thank you, Dr. Ornish! This book would be a great gift to everyone you care about on Valentine's Day.
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on August 24, 2000
Dr. Ornish has rightly received international acclaim for his research and his publications about reversing heart disease. He has published three best selling books on this subject. He, as usual, is ahead of his field.
This book, Love and Survival, addresses the importance of the social side of heart disease. He outlines five main points about surviving heart disease without undergoing invasive medical procedures. These points are (from page 7): · Rediscovering inner sources of peace, joy, and well-being · Learning how to communicate in ways that enhanced (sic) intimacy with loved ones · Creating a healthy community of friends and loved ones · Developing more compassion and empathy for themselves and others · Experiencing directly the transcendent interconnectedness of life.
It is Dr. Ornish' reputation that compels us to buy this book. There are interesting points in the many studies he references, although a bit disjointed, nevertheless, the reader is informed and inspired.
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on October 30, 2001
Before reading this book I was familiar with Dr. Ornish's work with diet and exercise reversing heart disease. From that exposure he came off as being slightly fanatical and rigid to me.
Well, was this book ever a surprise! Having done a lot of work on myself emotionally and spiritually a lot of the book was already known to me, but the way Dr. Ornish ties this all together with the scientific evidence blew me away, reinforcing a lot of what I had already suspected. In addition, in my personal life it has helped my spouse and I refocus ourselves into what is important in life. It is especially interesting because as an MD we would expect Dr. Ornish to take the stance that most of us have experienced with the medical profession i.e pushing the latest pills and technical wonders and leaving the emotions and spirituality to "others" (often with a sneer).
I highly recommend this book as it can jumpstart a lot if my case is any indication. It is funny, in the book Dr. Ornish quotes the old expression "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear". This book helped both my spouse and I recognize a teacher like that in our lives and I suspect it might help others see the teacher or teachers around themselves as well:)
Especially in these days of heartache and pain after 9/11 this book is a valuable tool into healing and hope as well.
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on November 13, 2012
Dr. Ornish is best known for his research which showed that diet and lifestyle changes could lead to a reversal in the progression of heart disease. In this book he extends his work to highlight the critical importance of social factors (relationships, community, friendship, support groups, lines of communication, love) in both avoiding and recovering from life-threatening illness. He cites a large volume of scientific studies to support his claims and divulges personal information about his own journey through life.

His eight pathways to intimacy and health are:
1) Words Matter. What we say and how we say it can have a powerful effect on bringing us closer to or farther from another person.
2) Group Support. A support group helps heal isolation, alienation, and loneliness. Physical healing often follows.
3) Confession, Forgiveness, and Redemption. The group support process of self-disclosure is healing.
4) Compassion, Altruism, and Service. When you help others, you also help yourself.
5) Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy can be a very helpful complement to spiritual practices.
6) Touching. Lack of human contact can lead to profound isolation and illness - even death.
7) Commitment. Commitment creates safety and makes intimacy possible.
8) Meditation. Paying attention and focusing your awareness increase your power, your joy, and sense of peace and wellbeing.
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on February 26, 2002
Dr. Ornish is best known for his research which showed the revolutionary result that diet and lifestyle changes
could lead to a reversal in the progression of heart disease. He has extended his body of work to highlight the
critical importance of social factors (relationships, community, friendship, support groups, lines of communication,
love) in both avoiding and recovering from life-threatening illness. He cites a large volume of scientific studies
which support his claims, and he divulges personal information about his own journey through life, shedding light
on his motivation and intentions. I highly recommend this book. It stands out in its class as unique and refreshingly
constructive.
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on January 10, 2000
Reading this book changed me deeply. Ornish includes moutains of scientific evidence that love, intimacy and service to others are healing, health promoting behaviours. We humans are more than just the sum of our body parts, our minds, our spiritual hearts affect our well being. I recommend this book to everyone willing to read it. You don't have to simply believe Ornish, he has scientific 'proof' for his ideas.
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The title says it all. Dr. Ornish is best known for his advocacy of a vegetarian diet. If you're not a Veggie, it's pretty easy to brush off what he has to say in other areas. Don't! As a 65-year-old widower, I can testify, without a scintilla of equivocation, that a life without intimacy, intellectual, as-well-as physical, hurries one down the highway of illness and death. If you have a loved one whose health is compromised, don't hide from them; don't withdraw, no matter how painful it may seem. Your desire for all shapes of intimacy with them will help them heal, if and when, healing is possible.
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on July 16, 2015
This is one of the keys books that have changed my outlook. A few others that fit in this category include Power vs. Force, A New Earth, Diet For a New America and the E&P attraction.

We all need to start paying more attention to the power of love. It is not just a hippie dippy, new agey thing.
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on September 13, 2009
This is an important book to be read by ALL men, AND the women who love them! Their very (life) survival depends on it. Simple concept once read, understood and put into practice, but a tragic ending if not.
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