Reading Journal: The Cure Within

Most of this book is content to document the history of mind-body medicine without asking about efficacy. The story at the beginning and the list of “bodies behaving badly” at the end are interesting examples:
1. Children (even with their physical needs being met) can be physically stunted and developmentally retarded without love.
2. Mortality levels dip below expected levels for ethnic groups just before culturally significant days (Jews don’t die the day before Passover).
3. The 200 women imprisoned by the Khmer Rouge who “cried until they could not see,” seem to have been physically blinded by metaphor.

(lots more examples in Daniel Moreman’s book).
Stress, a term borrowed from metallurgy, has two definitions – a scientific definition that becomes more specific as we study it, and a cultural definition that means all kinds of unease.
Harrington brings it home here: “Stories … allow everyone–scientists, patients, the rest of us–to recognize and think about the reality of mind body effects, but to do so in a way that do not force us to confront head-on the age-old dualisms…” Perhaps – I’m not sure the dualism is a problem. The key might be in the first part of the sentence – the democracy of meaning that storytelling provides. They are “devices for bridging the lacunae in our thinking” and the nature of these stories shape the way bodies react – they create behaviors and experiences that had not previously been there before.

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