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Molecules Of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine Paperback – February 17, 1999
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From Library Journal
Intrigue at the "Palace": back-stabbing, deceit, shunning, love affairs. This is not the plot to I, Claudius but the account Pert gives of her time working at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a.k.a. the Palace. Yet her time at NIH is not the central point here. Nor are the molecules of the title, although they do get due coverage. Pert offers mainly an account of her journey from a conventional scientist to one who also embraces complementary and alternative medicine. The journey is long and not without price. She was passed over for the Lasker and Nobel prizes for her work on opiate receptors while colleagues were recognized; she believes that her development of a potential AIDS drug was thwarted owing to scientific dirty pool as well as her being a woman in a man's world. Along the way, she took control of her career, her life, and her personal mission. This is an eye-opening book for anyone who thinks that people with medical degrees act more civil or are more altruistic than the rest of us, though Pert also shows that some do rise above the fray. Recommended for academic and special libraries.?Lee Arnold, Historical Soc. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
Pert, a self-described ``catalyst in the mindbodyspirit revolution in modern medical science,'' and once a chief of brain chemistry at the NIH, freely intermingles vibrant stories of her professional and personal life with her theories about neuropeptides. Currently a research professor at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, Pert may be best known as one of the scientists on Bill Moyers's PBS series Healing and the Mind. In the early 1970s, she made a name for herself with her key role in discovering the brain's opiate receptors. For the next decade, however, owing to her protests over her exclusion from the prestigious Lasker Award, her reputation among scientists was more that of feminist troublemaker than pathfinder. Certainly the picture she draws here of the science establishment would seem to suggest a world of aggressive, even ruthless, alpha males fighting for the top prize. She also traces her own evolution from competitive bench scientist to explorer of personal healing modalities. The death of her father, the end of her marriage, her resignation from the NIH, her embracing of the Christian faith, and her discovery of the healing power of dreams--all were, she says, life-shaping events. Pert also explains her theory that neuropeptides and their receptors are the biochemicals of emotions, carrying information in a vast network linking the material world of molecules with the nonmaterial world of the psyche. Her views on mind-body cellular communication mesh well with the concepts of energy held by many alternative therapies, and she is now, not surprisingly, a popular lecturer on the wellness circuit. Her final chapter describes an eight-part program for a healthy lifestyle, and she has appended an extensive list of alternative medicine resources. Strong scientific support for the mind-body school of medicine, sure to rankle those alpha males back in the labs. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Also, though I believe there are some interesting points to be made--the research and description of the research into finding a synthetic way to block HIV from binding were well done--the majority of the first part of the book was just too laden with scientific descriptions of various experiments for me to want to follow it. In some areas it read more like a manual for performing assays and scientific research on peptides. (It was, however, fairly easy to get the gist with a quick skimming through these technical parts.)
Finally, I don't know about the print version, but the Kindle version is loaded with typos (1-2 per page) and this was also a bit distracting.
Would love to see someone take this work and rewrite it for non-scientists!
Feminists and "real" scientists will find Dr. Pert's analysis of the anti-woman bias in science, and how much things have changed, sickening yet heartening. Yes, Dr. Pert was jacked out of the Nobel prize, but fought back, unlike the female discoverer of the DNA helix, whose work was simply stolen and presented as that of the male honchos. Dr. Pert points out that this woman's later death by cancer may have been due to the ignominy of how she was treated by the "good ol' boys" club.
The mind-body distinction drawn by the great Rene DesCartes (1596-1650) has haunted Western philosophy, psychology, psychiatry and medical science. No, psychology does NOT end at the neck! Asian philosophy and medicine has long been bedeviled by the Western snobbishness about this distinction; long have Asians thinkers explained the the mind and body are linked, two aspects of the person. Mind and body cannot be divorced, as DesCartes claimed; in fact, the contradiction of how mental events lead to body events -- e.g., raising your arm -- became one of the first, obvious problems with DesCartes. Nevertheless, the mind-body severance was so attractive, even though almost immediately contradicted (e.g., by Spinoza), that it continued to be a false axiom assumed by Western doctors and thinkers. So simple, it seemed. But Wrong.
To sum up, Dr. Pert shows that much of mind-body communication is chemical in nature, via "receptors" (which she does a great job of explaining, being one of the original discoverers), neurotransmitters, ligands, and other signalling chemical "messengers".
Thus, Dr. Pert shows that "the body is the subconscious mind", and that yes, emotion and meditation does affect health and body functions, and shows exactly how the mechanism works through several well-chosen examples.
Her folksy, non-technical presentation is designed, I think, to bring knowledge to the mainstream, and to relate common sense ideas to the background medical and neurospsychiatric rational that finally justifies some very obvious truths that Asian thinkers take for granted.
No, we can't explain accupuncture, but Western science is not able to explain even muscle function; and with Dr. Pert's work, we come a lot, a very lot, closer to understanding these mysteries.