The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness
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The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  770 ratings  ·  95 reviews
An inspiring and profoundly enlightening exploration of one doctor’s discovery of how hope can change
the course of illness

Since the time of the ancient Greeks, human beings have believed that hope is essential to life. Now, in this groundbreaking book, Harvard Medical School professor and New Yorker staff writer Jerome Groopman shows us why.

The search for hope is most urge...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published December 23rd 2003 by Random House (first published January 1st 2003)
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This is the first Jerome Groopman book I read, and it made me realize that everyone approaches illness differently, and those differences can affect our relationship with doctors and with disease itself. The consideration Jerome Groopman has put into thinking about these relationships is what I think makes him such a compelling advocate for good health care on the individual level. His insight is healpful for anyone, no matter what side of the doctor-patient relationship you are on, but especial...more
Having just chatted with the kind woman who rec this book for our club, I can't help but think about why I didn't like this book. There are 3 reasons. The first is the subject matter, the second is the lack of growth on the part of the protagonist, and the third is the deceptive title. The book's subject- people diagnosed with terminal cancer is presented from the doctor's perspective. Because I helped nurse my father through the end of his life, the subject was very close to my heart. It was te...more
Bonnie Brody
I've read all of Groopman's previous word and ordered this book from Amazon as soon as I heard it was being released. Groopman writes regularly for 'The New Yorker' about medical issues with the focus on his role as a physician and healer. What is remarkable about Dr. Groopman is that he respects every one of his patients and values their uniqueness.

This book explores the role of hope in fighting disease and healing. It discusses the biochemical changes related to hope and the physician's role i...more
Jan 09, 2008 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who know illness, especially
The love I have for (most of) this book is largely irrational... (although I suppose I could get all philosophical and point out that love generally is.) Until the last few chapters, it reads almost like a memoir of the author's experiences with hope as a doctor, and (perhaps thanks to the schmaltz-patrol he thanks in the acknowledgments) manages to be genuine as opposed to simply cheesy. It's very grounded in reality - hope does not cure cancer, hope does not stop AIDS - which contributes great...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Groopman writes with the authority earned from his long career as a hematologist and oncologist, professor at Harvard Medical School, and medical staff writer for The New Yorker. Reviewers contend that this slim volume is useful for people suffering serious illness--and just about everyone else. While at times the case histories seem one-dimensional, they aptly illustrate Groopman's points with sensitivity and insight. Interestingly, Groopman never defines hope in his work. Instead, he shows how

Groopman tells some amazing stories in this book--about people surviving against tremendous odds--and then considers the physical changes that are possible when people are hopeful. Hope, it seems, both improves the overall, physical outcome (in difficult to quantify ways) and, when the physical outcome isn't improved, improves the overall quality of life. Using his 19 years of back pain as an example of hopelessness, Groopman explores how you can learn to hope, and explains how, over the years,...more
I suppose I started reading this because I've become interested in the connection between our emotional and mental well-being and our physical well-being. I was hoping for some heavy-hitting insights here. But I felt it was mostly profiles of cancer patients and then some very technical scientific research. There was really no elegant tie-together of the two parts of the book.

As someone who recently underwent her own (comparatively minor) health crisis, I can clearly see how crucial hope is to...more
I liked this book pretty well - the things I wanted to hear/learn more about (HOW people prevail in the face of illness) were somewhat limited in scope.

Dr. Groopman is a hematologist/oncologist. So he deals mostly with cancer and HIV, that kind of thing. He discusses the differences he saw in outcomes and experiences according to the different degrees of hope each patient had. He also shared how some patients went from having little hope, to having more hope for a positive outcome. I enjoyed th...more
Tracie Stokka
I read this book years ago, and it still sticks with me. Drawing upon both his experiences as a doctor and as a patient, Groopman makes a convincing argument that the way we think about illness influences our recovery. That said, this book is very different from many of the books in the power-of-positive-thinking genre. What I remember as most poignant was Groopman's own experiences. After suffering the aftermath of an unsuccessful back surgery that greatly incapacitated him, the depth and bread...more
This book was truly inspiring. It was great to read about how people even in the most bleak circumstances somehow keep hope alive. It is written from a doctor's viewpoint... one of the few doctors without an ego. One of the things I remember the most from this book is that a patient told the doctor (Jerome Groopman, the author) a little story about God and Doctors. It goes something like this... "There are all these saints waiting at the pearly gates to get into Heaven. Since thier saints, they...more
Because I cannot easily "buy" the feel good, think and be well philosophies which seem so prevalent today, I wanted to see what a doctor had to say. (As a doctor-wannabe, I was also interested.) The author is an oncologist/hematologist who started out, like me, being skeptical of such exhortations and follows his career and understanding through years and fascinating patient stories. I have a much better understanding of the real value of placebos, how morphine works as well as the actual value...more
Blake Charlton
the onc cases are described with great detail and sympathy. groopman deserves kudos for examining such nebulous but important subjects has hope and the soul. the prose is precisely written and researched, but at times a bit overly analytic and detached. this same quality of prose in HOW DOCTORS THINK provided excellent analysis of physician error; however, here it made patients and physicians portrayed come off as distant, dry. the pathophysiology is described a very simple level, which may frus...more
Devin Partlow
Less anecdotes and more evidence! He spends a large majority of the book the story of various patients and at the very end he delves into a possible Biology of Hope. That's the book I wanna read, "The Biology of Hope". lets hear some scientific findings!
Groopman, an experienced physician, explores how patients cope in the face of serious illness and what effect hope has upon such occurrences. His analysis is careful and compassionate, as he draws on real life case studies, which are both fascinating and insightful. The chapter entitled, "The Biology of Hope" was extremely helpful in explaining the science behind the mind and body connection, particularly in the description of the autonomic nervous system and placebo response in clinical trials....more
Facing a life-threatening illness can evoke many things, among them fear, courage, and a desire to be as close to friends and family as possible in the challenging times surrounding it. This book gave a perspective of hope that sustained many patients--for living as long as possible with a good quality of life. Messages abound, including that death is a part of life, we are all mortal beings, and that it is so important to find comfort in our last days knowing that God awaits us. Of course, we d...more
Richard (Rick)
This is an interesting book written by a doctor about how the social/emotional aspects of being human affect healing, particularly the positive emotion of hope. The first 3/4 of the book are case studies and narratives about former patients, and then he provides some conclusions. I thought the book was engaging and interesting, but I was left wishing he had gone further in his analysis and discussion. It felt a little bit like the conclusions were too superficial, and not as meaningful as I was...more
Good non-fiction from MD perspective-I was in nursing school from 1984-87 at the New England Deaconess Hospital when the author, Dr Groopman, was a hematologist/oncologist there. I remember his expertise on the Aids epidemic - our 11th floor had an Aids cluster unit and Aids was devastating many young people. Dr Groopman also writes for the New Yorker re: health issues. He is a good story teller and he shares his perspective on the frustrations and compassion and humility of his journey as a phy...more
This book gives some much needed insight into this unexplained world, especially for physicians who are often caught up in the black and white of reality. Dr Groopman explains in a way that even physicians who believe only in statistics can grasp.

I will take a way a sense that we in the medical community do not know everything. We never said we do, in fact, we constantly say we do not – but we feel as if we do. I will take away that if there is a 99% chance of certain death than 1% will not – an...more
In writing my thesis about whether being receptive to an intervention had an impact on patients' outcomes, I researched the placebo affect. This writer sums up a bit about the placebo effect in the last chapter. He writes about the importance of hope, the physiology of what happens to the body (and mind-body connection) in the wake of hope, and how he intends to use his knowledge in his practice.


Nothing new here.

It pales in comparison to the last medical-book-for-the-masses I read," The Empe...more
Debra Daniels-zeller
How people prevail in te face of illness is the topic of this book. The author, Jerome Groopman is a doctor whose research specializes in blood disease, cancer and AIDS. Groopman lays out what hope is through stories, mostly about cancer patients, but one, surprisingly is his own story. Each story is about how hope changes lives, and whether you have it or not determines your survival. Hope here is more like "will to live." Goopman's writing and the stoires are compelling, even the last chapter...more
May 18, 2012 Leah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: neuro
Not too maudlin, and not too removed from practical application either (which is a pretty inherently maudlin context, especially from a hemo-oncologist.

And, bonus points, not too hopeful about the hopefulness of hoping hopefully.

By which I mean that this book is NOT pop psychology, but pop neuroscience. What's the difference? In a pithy sentence, pop psych promises solutions to questions without answers, and popneurosci provides answers to questions that don't promise anyth...more
Thank you, Dr. Groopman, for reminding physicians to let patients hold onto their hope. All too often I've seen physicians extinguish the tiniest hope that the patients hang onto during an overwhelming illness. I've done it before myself during hectic and thoughtless moments, and I've always regretted it afterwards.

One outstanding chapter, on how Dr. Groopman dealt with his chronic back pain and how he convalesced after a failed spine operation, will change how patients and physicians perceive...more
Leslie Nelson
Inspiring. Dr. Groopman has a friendly, easy to read style of writing and he writes about my favorite subject: people. He tells stories about patients he has known and the different ways they deal with illness. One woman, in particular, stays with me and inspires me with her courage even though I read this book months ago.

Dr. Groopman also shares some fascinating stories and ideas about hope, the role it plays in illness and the placebo effect, it's not what you think.

Highly recommended!
Sandra Strange
The book is just what it says it is, a thorough
analysis of hope—what it is, why it is, how it affects us and what happens to us, both the psychological and physiological experience of hope. The book treats the doctor’s own experience with serious disease, as well as drawing on his experience treating seriously ill patients. It’s a good read for adults, but probably doesn’t move fast enough for adolescents. It might be a good book for kids taking psychology.

Jenna Carr
Everyone should read this book whether they are dealing with illness in their surrounding life or not. Very moving and interesting. Found it fascinating that just the way a patient is told they have an illness effects the outcome of their treatment. Very empowering... Highly suggest reading when you aren't sick so you are empowered to have positive people around you or a loved one if unfortunately one day you do get sick....
Written by an oncologist, this is partly case study, partly research. Groopman discusses his early career and how he discovered for himself how to be able to provide hope to his patients that was not "false hope." He gives several examples and then goes on to discuss some research about hope. There is a fascinating piece on the placebo effect. I found this book to be an easy and compelling read and it gives one food for thought.
This was a very interesting book by Dr. Jerome Groopman. I listened to the abridged version on audio. He traced some of his medical cases and what he learned from the cases, as well as his own 19 year struggle with crippling back pain. He began seeing a link between hope and its effects on pain. Scientifically the study of placebos and their effects was fascinating in its realationship to endomorphins etc.
Added perspectives on HOPE from one who's been in the midst of those who needed it most. Brief dissection of topics like body, mind, soul in relation to clinical aspects was interesting. Actual anecdotes were inspiring. The book is deep.
Book is in the house, on one of the shelves, waiting to be picked up - i believe i am the first reader. Who is next?
I read this when someone very important to me was struggling with cancer, and after I had finished the book, I carried it around with me in my purse for weeks. Just having it on me made me feel a lot better. Dr.Groopman captures the life in each of his patients and approaches oncology with a hopeful, optimistic spirit, no matter how hard it may be.
Ryan recommended I read it. He had to read it for a class at school. I really enjoyed it, especially the first half because of the way the author tells the story. It gave me a deeper glimpse into some aspects of the profession of healthcare. Now I can't stop thinking about what it would be like to be diagnosed with something so serious.
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“... omniscience about life and death is not within a physician's purview. A doctor should never write off a person a priori.” 2 likes
“The cerebral processing of that visceral input as a signal of death was accurate. Without the kinds of therapy that had been developed over the decades, this cancer would have been fatal. Hope, then, is constructed not just from rational deliberation, from the conscious weighing of information; it arises as an amalgam of thought and feeling, the feelings created in part by neural input from the organs and tissues.” 1 likes
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