Picks and Pans Review: The Mind/body Effect

updated 04/23/1979 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/23/1979 01:00AM

by Herbert Benson, M.D.

Benson's best-selling The Relaxation Response was a do-it-yourself meditation manual that gave some useful advice on improving health through peace and quiet. This is a rather curious follow-up, stressing psychological factors in health and illness. Benson, an associate professor at the Harvard Medical School, may be courting trouble by writing, credulously, about "voodoo death"—fatalities resulting from, he speculates, victims' belief in the power of curses inflicted upon them. He also argues for increased attention to the intangible, nonspecific forms of medical treatment and the old "bedside manner" now referred to as "holistic medicine." His criticism of the overmechanized, underpersonalized nature of modern medicine is pointed, if not revolutionary. The unhappy fact remains that this sort of book could unwittingly lend credence to charlatan "faith healers," despite Benson's persistent disclaimers that the techniques of modern medicine should not be given up, only humanized. (Simon & Schuster, $8.95)

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