NPJ Book Review: You Are The Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter by Dr. Joe Dispenza (2014)
An atypical book review: Thought processes are complicated. The chemistry related to emotions and healing is even more complex. The words we tell ourselves affect us. To what degree does the inter-reaction between body and mind lead to a chemical and physical transformation?
Professor Ted Kaptchuk of Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, research has concentrated on the placebo effect, “The placebo effect is more than positive thinking — believing a treatment or procedure will work. It’s about creating a stronger connection between the brain and body and how they work together.”
Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Socrates among others understood the value of words on action and how we perceive the world around us. Socrates suggested “If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.” Our body’s chemistry changes every day. How do our words affect that change?
In Buddhism to reach higher truths we must empty our minds of the information it’s bombarded with each day. By emptying our mind we begin to see with clarity and (again) the word(s) we use affects our body.
The author, Dispenza, knows intimately through his experience of self-healing that what is at stake is more than the power of positive thinking. What does our mind tell our body? Though a Chiropractor (Life University in Atlanta), he succeeds with marketing himself and his beliefs based on his own experiences in a field that has yet to be fully understood and explored.
The author possesses a superlative feel-good life-style philosophy that beckons, though big pharma would disagree; it’s difficult not to be cynical as so much money is being made on both their sides.
One has to step back and consider the options. The chemistry of the human body and mind is a legitimate field of study and exploration. What don’t we know?
So much of the human physical and mental limitations are self-imposed unless born with those limitations and no amount of thought will heal a personal strapped in a wheelchair suffering from cerebral palsy or give vision to the person born blind. The list is long. Someday, perhaps as we learn more about the chemistry of the body and the thought processes – will we be able to transform our bodies through words and thoughts?
As a person who meditates I appreciate the scripts the author suggests. It’s more than meditation. It’s a lifestyle requiring self-discipline and being able to envision opportunities when one encounters those opportunities or how to effectuate an opportunity when none are readily visible.
The challenge of any work on self-improvement such as this, is cherry picking parts of studies and experiences that serve as evidence and core to the point you are trying to make.
As an aside: I don’t need to spend the extra money I don’t have to help another’s bank account. So much of what he writes can be found at a university, college or urban public library and obviously on the Internet with the only cost being your time. One must always be aware of embroidered facts in all studies that speak of and deal with transformation. And this capable work is an attempt at transformation. Read critically and apply what works.
I think back to the work of Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie, the French psychologist around the turn of the 20th century who suggested to his patients that they apply the following script therapy for self-healing: “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better” Tous les jours à tous points de vue je vais de mieux en mieux. It was called the Coué method (auto suggestion)
Historically the gurus and prophets of ideas lived and died for an idea not for personal financial gain but enlightenment and the healing of the spirit. The thought in part was if one can heal one’s own spirit the physical body will pay attention.
The author has provided a fascinating read and a variation on ancient holistic approaches to life with the attempt to apply modern science to physical transformation (while securing a healthy retirement fund). Money aside, his and our pursuit of enlightenment is a worthy objective. There is so much we don’t know about our universe and the chemical, physical and mental relationships.
If nothing else Dispenza’s works inspire curiosity as to the positive potential of what being human can mean and the complex relationship between body and mind and the affirmation of each other.