Book Review: How Healing Works

How Healing Works:  Get Well And Stay Well Using Your Hidden Power To Heal, by Wayne Jonas, MD

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Blogging For Books/Lorena Jones Books.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

How much one appreciates this book depends on how one feels about the divide between Western reductionist medicine and the healing practices of the rest of the world as well as what is labeled as complementary and alternative medicine [1].  As someone who is a fairly skeptical person about the state of our health care system but also about much going on in alternative medicine, I thought that this book was fairly straightforward and even obvious.  That said, as the author is an MD, I thought the book must have been rather tough for the author to write, given that in this volume he admits a massive failure on the part of contemporary American medicine to deal effectively with pain and chronic problems and engage both the rituals of healing as well as the need for patient buy-in.  If I do not think this book was a particularly dramatic one from my own perspective, the book shows a scientifically trained person at least struggling to accept the complex reality of human consciousness and the role of psychology and faith in healing, and that is worth a lot.

This volume is about 300 pages containing ten chapters divided into three sections and including various worthwhile supplementary material as well.  The author begins with an introduction that states the need for a new understanding of healing in light of the high cost and low effectiveness of contemporary medicine.  The first part of the book looks at the need to rethink healing, and the author discusses the paradox of healing, how we heal, how science tends to miss healing, and the elements for a rigorous science of healing.  After this the author discusses the dimensions of healing, including the importance of home, the behavior of practitioners, the importance of love, and the key role that meaning plays in healing.  The last two chapters discuss integrative health and creating healing that is custom and individualized.  Te book then looks at appendices including the HOPE consultation, the author’s view for an improved consultation than tends to occur at present, as well as tips for constructing one’s healing journey and additional reading on integrative health.  Throughout the book the author includes personal stories from his own family (especially his wife) as well as others he has met that prompted him to think about what goes wrong with the usual medical care and what could be done to better serve the interests of healing.

If one is looking for a well-told discussion of a doctor’s journey to a greater understanding of the difference between healing and curing, this book will be of great use.  If one has some understanding of the importance of diet, exercise, stress, love, and meaning/purpose in one’s ongoing well-being, this book will likely be more encouragement along that path but will likely not have as much new information as one might think.  For those readers who are more pessimistic or cynical by nature, this book is itself evidence of a growing tendency to admit that medicine has very little to offer those who suffer pain and chronic elements except for a wagging finger that tells them to eat better, get along better with others, find meaning in life, avoid loneliness, and exercise more.  Like a great many of the tendencies of our times to force greater responsibility and fewer resources to those who suffer, this book is a call, quite literally, for patients to heal themselves, especially in that it does not provide promise that their doctors and other health care professionals will be the most empathetic and understanding when it comes to providing care.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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1 Response to Book Review: How Healing Works

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Wait: The Art And Science Of Delay | Edge Induced Cohesion

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