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Publisher's Summary

This riveting narrative explores the world of placebos, hypnosis, false memories, and neurology to reveal the groundbreaking science of our suggestible minds. Could the secrets to personal health lie within our own brains? Journalist Erik Vance explores the surprising ways our expectations and beliefs influence our bodily responses to pain, disease, and everyday events. Drawing on centuries of research and interviews with leading experts in the field, Vance takes us on a fascinating adventure from Harvard's research labs to a witch doctor's office in Catemaco, Mexico, to an alternative medicine school near Beijing (often called "China's Hogwarts"). Vance's firsthand dispatches will change the way you think - and feel.
Continuing the success of National Geographic's brain books and rounding out our pop science category, this book shows how expectations, beliefs, and self-deception can actively change our bodies and minds. Vance builds a case for our "internal pharmacy" - the very real chemical reactions our brains produce when we think we are experiencing pain or healing, actual or perceived. Supporting this idea is centuries of placebo research in a range of forms, from sugar pills to shock waves; studies of alternative medicine techniques heralded and condemned in different parts of the world (think crystals and chakras); and, most recently, major advances in brain mapping technology. Thanks to this technology, we're learning how we might leverage our suggestibility (or lack thereof) for personalized medicine, and Vance brings us to the front lines of such study.
©2016 Erik Vance (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By mark o reilly on 04-13-17

Overstates it's central premise but interesting

Overall it contains a lot of fascinating topics and covers relevant research in an engaging way. The issues crop up around the central concept of the book; the effectiveness of placebos. It basically oversells the idea and doesn't do more than a brief mention of alternative explanations, essentially amounting to a hand wave of information counter to the idea of powerful placebos.

Narration is fine for the most part, it just reads a little slow so for the first time ever I found myself ramping it up to 1.3 speed. That might be related to me not fully engaging in the material and being a little skeptical of its content.

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45 of 47 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Matt C on 11-26-16

Very interesting book, I have recommended to several others

It is rare that I write a review but this book deserves a good review.
Has changed the way I view many things like faith healers, supplements, hypnotism and placebos.

Great journey into the human mind and how memory meets expectation, suggestion and placebo.

Couldn't stop listening to it. I also see where a great many people who struggle with some of the problems listed as being very susceptible to placebo like addiction, depression, IBS, or even Parkinson's may really appreciate learning the truth about the drugs they are being given.

Highly recommend.

Also, there is a great appendix that is a hypnotic induction to reduce pain during dental work! I'm going to cue it up next time I'm in the chair!

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36 of 39 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By S. Campbell on 12-21-16

Makes you question everything you have ever felt!

This book reveals the complex nature of how we humans interpret the world and how easily we bend our interpretation of reality to our expectations. It leaves you questioning all the things that you feel and things you do to make your self better. Questioning all your memories and their veracity. I think you will come out the otherside a more critical and analytical person who at the same time is more open minded to the mystical. I very much reccomended it.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Anonymous User on 07-08-18

Thought provoking content

This book really opens up for a lot of debate and touches on some great topics. I would recommend it to everyone who like to broaden their perspectives.

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