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Timeless Healing Paperback – March 17, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (March 17, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684831465
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684831466
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This carefully researched and accessible study by Benson (The Relaxation Response), a professor at Harvard Medical School, focuses on the power of the mind in curing illness. Benson cites a wealth of scientific data, as well as anecdotes from patients, to establish evidence that "remembered wellness"?his term for the placebo effect?is a major factor in relieving serious medical conditions. Remembered wellness can occur when a sick person calls the doctor for an appointment then feels much better, if not recovered, by the date of the appointment. The majority of research presented here deals with the strong negative or positive power of belief systems on the body. Benson argues that humans are genetically prone to attach meaning to life and then translate this predisposition into belief in a higher power. Faith in God, according to Benson and documented by recent studies on the positive effects of prayer, is as important to healing as are medical procedures. This is a thought-provoking inquiry into the mind/body connection.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Apropos to the world of modern medicine, Shakespeare wrote, "Oft expectation fails, and most oft there, Where it promises most." To this arena of lofty expectation and technological wizardry, Benson (Harvard Medical Sch.) again explores the healing power of the human psyche. As in his The Wellness Book (LJ 3/1/92), Benson illustrates via exhaustive case studies and anonymous examples the power of what has been erroneously labeled the placebo effect. Further, he cites numerous instances where the intersection of prayer and meditation have stemmed the tide of pain or disability, illuminating for the uninitiated the raw potency of the human will. Benson's academic credentials lend credence to his authoritative voice as he "demythologizes meditation" (says one early reviewer) as well as the world of wholistic healing. Somewhat overblown at times, Benson's previous works go far to cover much of what is reiterated here. Purchase where interest in spirituality and wholistic medicine is high or as an initial foray into this area.?Sandra Collins, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Lib.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Herbert Benson, MD, is the Mind Body Medical Institute Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. He is the author of the mega-bestselling book, The Relaxation Response, as well as ten other trade books. His groundbreaking work established the modern field of mind body medicine. Dr. Benson is the Director Emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Overall, the book is very readable and informative.
Dr. H. A. Jones
Dr. Benson explains that when we repudiated the importance of belief in healing we deprived ourselves of a powerful healing force.
World Traveler
It is with this epistemologically value-neutral manner that Dr. Benson approaches the topic at hand - the biology of expectation.
Pavel Somov, Ph.D., author of "Lotus Effect," "Present Perfect," & "Eating the Moment"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Dr Benson presents strong evidence for what others have called the "mind / body connection." Mainstream medical science has not yet recognized the importance belief plays in health but, Dr. Benson presents numerous studies that validate the major role belief plays in the healing process and wellness. Practitioners of complimentary therapies will find this book especially helpful in understanding how many non-drug based therapies can work. Well written and thought provoking!
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful By World Traveler on November 20, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think what is amazing about this book is that Herbert Benson states without a doubt that faith in God is healthy for us. While our ancestors took it for granted that God healed them, as Dr. Benson explains, we have been taught to see healing purely in technical scientific terms. Dr. Benson explains that when we repudiated the importance of belief in healing we deprived ourselves of a powerful healing force.
Dr. Benson knows that his rational-scientific audience will be skeptical of his arguements. So, he provides us with well-reasoned arguements supported by ample evidence. He explains that we need to relax our over-stressed minds on a regular basis. We need this as an antedote to our hurried lives that stress us out and make us sick. He cites many studies (much from his own research) that daily meditation stimulates the bodies natural healing mechanisms.
Now, the radical finding of Dr. Benson's research is that belief in God makes a difference in healing. If a person meditates regularly using a spiritual phrase they are more likely to heal than those who use a secular word such as "peace". The person's religion doesn't matter. It seems that God is an equal opportunity healer.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Scott H. Strickland on March 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a well-written book that clearly describes the links between our thoughts and our physical health. It is written in an accessible personal style, without the "guru" overtones of works by Deepak Chopra or Wayne Dyer (good writers, just with a different style). Everyone, regardless of their view of God, can benfit from the concepts of Remembered Wellness and the Relaxation Response described in this book. A personal recomendation - couple this book, with its "unproven healing energy", with Greg Bradden's "The Divine Matrix", which describes this energy, and you will be good to go.
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Format: Paperback
Benson's book "Timeless Healing," contrary to its subtitle, "The Power and Biology of Belief," is not just for believers. Benson defines belief in epistemologically correct way: belief is nothing other than a set of operating assumptions, as a substitute for immediate and direct experience. It is with this epistemologically value-neutral manner that Dr. Benson approaches the topic at hand - the biology of expectation.

Benson - as most psychologists know from their grad studies - is the guy that brought the Relaxation Response to the West. Sure, the East-West synthesis had predated his writings and research, but Benson is arguably the first to have empirically studied and reported on the physiology that underlies relaxation.

The present book is an excellent resource for a behavioral medicine/health psychology clinician as well as for a general reader who is interested in leveraging the mind-over-body self-help. The book offers a cogent, highly accessible coverage of the concept of placebo (and its "evil twin," nocebo); it details the psycho-neuro-physiology of the relaxation response; it examines the variables that potentiate therapeutic suggestion and expectation in the clinician-client interactions; the book summarizes the mind-over-body research, and generally succeeds in making a good case for the need to infuse a greater degree of psychological savvy into the Western medical training.

The book is in some ways auto-biographical. Benson shares his journey from the medical establishment to the study of the relaxation response and, arguably, back to the medical establishment but on a mission of integrating what he had learnt.

As such, the book is a kind of life-review, perhaps, an attempt at professional legacy, and a suggested mission statement.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. H. A. Jones on June 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
Timeless Healing: The power and biology of belief, by Herbert Benson, Fireside (Scribner), New York, 1997, 352 ff.

A medical account of the importance of mental attitude on bodily health

Here, a physician presents his professional experience of cases where attitude of mind or belief had a remarkable effect on the physical health of his patients. In this respect, the book is mostly anecdotal - but none the less persuasive for that! It provides a clinical complement to Candace Pert's "Molecules of Emotion", which is largely biochemical. In Benson's own words: `the entire book [is] about the fact that beliefs have physical repercussions [and] that the human spirit [is] influential in the treatment and prevention of illnesses.' The patient, the caregiver and the relationship between the two are all considered important. There is sharp criticism of the American (and, by implication, of the British) medical care system for its enthusiasm for change, and for its heavy reliance on new technologies and drugs. Benson does not suggest that these new techniques should not be used, only that caregivers should not lose sight of the emotional, subjective feelings and beliefs of the patients.

These beliefs may involve a benevolent God, or an awareness of some kind of overarching spirituality, or simply a patient's belief that they were going to get well, perhaps by having been given placebo medication. Whatever the source of inspiration, the patient's belief in themselves could produce, or at least contribute to, wellness. But the reverse is also true. Belief in a vengeful God, or that one deserved one's ill-health, or that the disease prognosis was hopeless - the nocebo - had a markedly detrimental effect.
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