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Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient
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Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  412 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Anatomy of an Illness was the first book by a patient that spoke to our current interest in taking charge of our own health. It started the revolution in patients working with their doctors and using humor to boost their bodies' capacity for healing. When Norman Cousins was diagnosed with a crippling and irreversible disease, he forged an unusual collaboration with his phy ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 17th 2005 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1979)
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Cheri
My Mother gave me this book early this past year. I had forgotten about it and saw it on my bookshelf. I would have given this book 5 stars but Chapter 5 bothered me a great deal. I couldn't disagree with the author more on his comments regarding doctors and holistic medicine. Perhaps his experience has been a positive one but my personal experience and that of my family's, doctors were outright hostile about even discussing holistic medicine. Regardless of how much holistic medicine has helped ...more
Charlotte
A mind over matter account of illness. Great one to be reading at this time of year when everyone around me is dropping like flies, slayed by this or that lurghy. With the vitamin C and positive thinking endorsed by Cousins, I feel like I have the best defence.

Both fascinating and empowering, this book is one I would really recommend. Cousins highlights the medicinal power of psychological cheer, noting the physiological and chemical effects that laughing and contentment can have. HIs reasoning
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Sofi
Anatomía de una enfermedad es un libro alucinante. No solo habla acerca de la enfermedad en si, sino que también de la risa, el humor, la vida y hasta la capacidad mental y corporal de la persona para buscar componerse de un mal.

Su protagonista y autor, Norman Cousins, fue, a los cincuenta años de edad, diagnosticado con espondolitis anquilosante. Una enfermedad sumamente dolorosa que lo aisló completamente hasta entrar en una depresión. A medida que la enfermedad lo consumía, los médicos no log
...more
Bryan Kibbe
Never doubt the power of the mind over the body, at least that is the pressing message of Norman Cousins' book, Anatomy of an Illness. Without succumbing to abstract speculation without any clear evidence, Cousins offers an inspiring narrative of how he overcame the medical odds when diagnosed with a debilitating disease. Important to his account is an emphasis on the use of vitamin C and comic television shows. Cousins' point is that whether it was regaining an intense will to live or some bioc ...more
Todd
I was undergoing treatment for a life-threatening condition. One of the medical techs at the hospital loaned this book to me. I found the author's observations to be spot-on and had been espousing many of the same thoughts from my own experience.

This is a short read and one that puts the patient's role in his or her own healing in perspective. My doctors didn't let me take a passive role in my treatment and I'm so glad they didn't. Anatomy of an Illness was ahead of its time in that respect, but
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Sarah Evan
This books is something I've been looking for in my search of 'healthcare for humans' slant on the topic. The author attitude with which he faced illness is inspirational, for he challenged his doctors and encourages others to do the same. I like also how he has researched the power of the placebo, among other issues, to get me thinking about certain elements of western medicine. A quick read and I would say a definitive must read for any doctor or patient (esp of a severe diagnosis) to understa ...more
Bridget
Though this book was published in 1979, it is largely relevant today. After suffering from a degenative disease from which the doctors pronounced he would not recover, Cousins ignored their predictions and determined to find his own cure. Using research on ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and it's ability to reduce inflammation in the body and laughter therapy, Cousins not only recovered, but turned his view of medicine on its head. While not arguing against traditional medical treatment, he questions ...more
bookczuk
Celebrating the truth that laughter is the best medicine. This is a book that when I originally read (when it came out) I thought was wonderful.

When I became ill, I still thought it wonderful. Now that I am somewhat more in a stable health state, which a chronic illness, I still say laughter heals. Laugh often and laugh freely, alone or with loved ones. It makes life sweeter.
Melinda
I didn't know what to expect with this book, but was astonishingly surprised to find a jewel.

What does healthy aging look like? What does recovery from disease and illness look like? Norman Cousins was diagnosed with a life threatening illness. He was blessed with a cooperative physician who was also a personal friend, and he rejected the traditional diagnosis and treatment for his illness. He instead replaced the hospital with a stay in a hotel where he had massive IV doses of Vitamin C and wa
...more
Kali
from kalireads.com:

Norman Cousins, a journalist and professor, believed in taking massive doses of Vitamin C and laughing to cure illness. Perhaps more important than either one of those specific treatments, he believed in the power of placebo and each person’s ability to heal their own illnesses. Cousins’ Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration was originally published in 1979 and is now considered an important classic of patient involvement in
...more
Nicolas Shump
Cousins is a hell of a good writer. I guess he was a long-time editor of the Saturday Review. He engages you by taking complex medical issues and humanizing them. I think the autobiographical component is the best part of the book.
It is amazing how sick he was and how completely he recovered. I also agree that the patient needs to be very involved in his/her healing, of course, much has changed in medicine since Anatomy was published. Perhaps this is a result of his writing,especially regarding
...more
Greg
I read Cousins' first edition of Anatomy of an Illness way back when...it was terrific then, and hasn't lost any of its relevance today. It essentially energized an entire movement around mind/body health, and cracked open the possibility in many previously closed minds that there might be more important inputs into human health than drugs and surgery. Indeed, as I recall, Cousins became the first non-MD member of the faculty at a prominent medical school, based on his experiences and writing.

T
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Elizabeth
Oct 24, 2007 Elizabeth rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: patients and their families
This book examines the patient experience as the author found it in the 1960s and into the 1970s. Cousins emphasizes the importance of the patient taking responsibility for his own recovery, especially in the sense that the patient must have the will to live. Cousins uses his own experience with a collagen deficiency that the doctors told him was incurable to illustrate how the human body has a stronger capacity to heal itself than perhaps the medical community recognizes. He discusses the need ...more
Jen Marin
This 1979 classic work explores the value of perception and expectation in the art of healing. Cousins argues for a more holistic approach to healing, in which ones emotions and thoughts can be leveraged for more effective results. During his own hospitalization with an autoimmune disorder, he recognized how the hospitalization itself was disturbing his sleep, disrupting his diet, and generally causing him to feel poorly. As his illness could not be helped by medication, he checked out of the ho ...more
Jennifer
I really enjoyed this book. I know some of the reviews have mentioned that the information in this book is outdated. I have not done a lot of reading regarding health, nutrition, and serious illness, and this was a great introduction into these areas and how they are interconnected. It was a pretty easy read, as Mr. Cousins spoke mainly in laymans terms and used lots of personal anecdotes. I found that I shared a similar belief system as the author, even if I had not fleshed out the thoughts to ...more
Sherrie
I imagine this book read as fresher when it was first published, but I can't imagine that it didn't sound as pompous then as it does now. OK, OK, you know what all of us poor slobs trusting in our physicians' best advice really need better than they or we do. Got it. A colleague recommended this as a source of inspiration for battling my own illness. I appreciate the supportive thought, but I'll have to keep looking.
Natasha
Stories of self-healing are always encouraging to me. This is one of the "classics" in the field of mind-body medicine.

Even more interesting is the author's reflections on the US medical system and what has become standard diagnostic and treatment protocol. He proposes a more collaborative doctor-patient partnership and an open mind regarding potential therapies. He includes patients, medical professionals, and 3rd party payers in this paradigm. It was interesting to me that while there have bee
...more
Karen Terrell
This book was really affirming and validating for me. Powerful. Bolstering. This is the first time I've read a book by Cousins - but now I'm going to look for more of his work.
Jana
Strange, interesting, well worth the read. Absolutely fascinating ideas about health and happiness. Engaging author. Memorable and thought provoking.
Jennifer Keller
I did not read all of this, but quite a bit. This was so helpful in changing my perspective through cancer treatments.
Burnettkw
I'm sure this book was very important when it came out almost 30 years ago, but now the concepts are so widely accepted that they seem obvious. Some of the discussion also feels dated, referring to outdated therapies. It's all about the power of positive thinking in recovering from illness, which is important, but sometimes biology is a lot more important. People with terminal illnesses at some point have to redefine positive thinking: I'm going to live every moment of the rest of my life as ful ...more
Barbara
Some of its information is (understandably) dated, and the author displays excessive enthusiasm for ascorbic acid, but overall this is an excellent, early work on the powers of positive thinking and alternative treatments. Diagnosed with an incurable and debilitating illness in 1964, Cousins decided to fight back with unconventional therapies, which included huge doses of both vitamin C and laughter. Not only did he recover, but he lived for 26 years longer, amazing the medical community. Intere ...more
Ryan
Mar 12, 2013 Ryan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: alternative medicine fans
Recommended to Ryan by: Psychology professor
Fantastic book that recalls and investigates the author's miraculous healing through unconventional methods, namely using nutritional therapy (specifically high doses of Vitamin C, something Dr. Linus Pauling advocated) and even psychological coping mechanisms (humor to boost spirits and perseverance in the face of adversity). Riveting and thought-provoking, and unabashedly challenging to modern day medical and pharmaceutical entrenched beliefs on how to effectively treat "an anatomy of an illne ...more
Harriet Cabelly
Mind/body connection, being one's own health advocate, the validity of non-traditional healing techniques such as laughter, the power of the placebo and the patient's relationship with his/her doctor, are all explored in this very reader-friendly and important book. We are all in need of this education in the field of medicine. Our health is ours to deal with. This is a timeless book as more and more continues to come out on the power of the mind as it affects our entire body/health.
Karl
This may be a good book for someone who hasn't been paying attention to the advances we have made in doctor-patient relationships. Since it came out in the late 70s, regarding information primarily from the 60s and 70s, it is a bit dated. But, it serves as a good primer for background information and can be inspiring to those who have been diagnosed with a debilitating disease. I like some of the references to old texts though. I'm keeping the book for future reference.
Rachelle
This book was written 40 years ago and is a first-person account of a patient who was diagnosed with a disabling illness but was able to overcome it using a combination of expert medical advice, humor, and his own research. Many of the things that seemed so novel at the time (such as a patient being actively involved in deciding his own plan of care) are actually pretty common practice now, and it is interesting to see how changes have been made in the healthcare system.
Carolinemawer
The book is inspiring more for its place in history, than for its content or writing. I'm happy for the author that he laughed his way to a Vit C-fuelled health. And that I understand it started "the revolution in patients working with their doctors". Even if I'm more than a little worried by the pressure on 'the sick' and their families to construct their own personalised fight narratives. And on doctors to fully take part - was that, no matter what?
Pascal Durrenberger
Excellent read. Good tips on how to escape the "bleak brigade" so to positively build in your mind an image of health that is not just behind a window in the distant with a future fading but presents a world at arms reach for your be surrounded fully if you put your mind to it. A diagnostic is not to be taken as a death sentence but as a mere problem to solve and to overcome. Anything is possible. Anyone following Dr Schweitzer's philosophy got my vote.
Paula
A revolutionary book about doctors and patients and medical care when it came out 30 years ago. The best thing about reading this book today is realizing how important it is for the patient to have control over his medical care, to be a partner with their doctor in their care and to know what options that are available. Being an educated, positive patient should be a goal for all of us that only can help in the healing process.
Guy
By the time I read this book, I had been long since acquainted with the ideas he presents about the role of the mind in the body's healing, and the questionable practices of western medicine. It is a good read, however, as an introduction into how much western medicine does not understand, and how the body can and does heal itself despite the doctors' best efforts.
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“Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.” 44 likes
“I have learned never to underestimate the capacity of the human mind and body to regenerate -- even when prospects seem most wretched. The life force may be the least understood force on earth." Norman Cousins (in his; Anatomy of an Illness)” 6 likes
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