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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

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  970 ratings  ·  103 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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4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  970 ratings  ·  103 reviews

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Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Bryan Kibbe
Feb 10, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 24, 2013 rated it really liked it

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
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: medicine
Anatomy of an Illness as Percieved by the Patient is a great book by Norman Cousins that I frequently suggest to patients and families of patients who have significant illnesses and have lost hope.

I volunteer visit assisted living facilities with one purpose in mind. Laughter!!! Cousins’ book suggests vitamin C and various methods to distract the infirm individual from dwindling away.

Laughter can make tons of difference. I have a 3 star rating system of 1= smile, 2=chuckle, and 3=robust laughing
Sep 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, 2016-netgalley
Anatomy of an Illness gives you a patient in the 1960s who was diagnosed with a life threatening illness. He didn't just accept the doctor's news, he decided he would try different concepts in helping to heal himself.

He was a big believer in Vitamin C which made a difference in his illness. Fortunately, his doctor went along in trying some of the various ways he was tested. Laughter was found to be a large part of helping pain level. They would test before and after watching a funny show and ho
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Mary Karpel-Jergic
In this book Norman Cousins makes some interesting observations about dealing with illness and the often difficult relationships between medical practice and the individuals that it purports to help. However, overall it is a self-help book which rallies the patient to take responsibility for their part in their healing. Whilst not for one moment suggesting that this is not a good idea, I got the sense that it was getting very close to the tyranny of positive thinking. Whilst positive thinking ca ...more
Oct 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Elizabeth Brush
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
fun story about this book: I was doing shelf maintenance at the library when I stumbled upon it. it was a cute little book, and then when I saw it was about patients' perspectives on illness, I knew I had to check it out. then, when I did check it out, it turned out it was a missing book and I had found it (even though it was shelved exactly where it was supposed to be...not sure what that means...)

if you couldn't tell by my excessive updating and quoting, I adore this book. it blows my mind th
Sarah Evan
Jul 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Daniel Taylor
On May 1, 2015, I will have prevented mania or depression from sending me to hospital for 14 years. Even though I only finished reading this book today, many of its ideas and principles have been key to me staying well. Patients need to participate with their physicians in their treatment. Brilliant work!
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Only 1 chapter was on his illness; the rest was about the system in general. Wanted more personal stories!
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
At first I didn't realize this book was published in the 70s. I hadn't before read anything about Cousins's experience, but his name was familiar. Our minds are powerful. What we think about matters and definitely has an effect on our bodies. I believe in the placebo effect. It was interesting reading about it in this book.

I like what he says about pain. I do take pain relief too quickly without getting rid of the stress and other sources first. It's too easy to run to a doctor than to let our
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pretty interesting read, especially given that it was written in the 70s. In some ways we've come a long way since then. In others, we have a long way to go.
Oct 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
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
Carlos Chan
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent read for people of all backgrounds. It never delves too deeply into the science, but it has just enough to satisfy individuals with basic background in healthcare.

As someone who is pursuing a career in healthcare and educated heavily in the basic sciences, I must admit that I came into this with a rather closed mind; I only picked up the book because another writer and physician who I highly admire and respect wrote of Norman Cousins in a very positive manner. I was pleasan
I read Cousins' first edition of Anatomy of an Illness way back 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.

Nicolas Shump
Jan 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jim Gleason
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A special hardcover gift edition of the New York Times bestseller: Norman Cousins's phenomenal bestseller on illness overcome and the triumph of the human spirit.
The premise of Norman Cousins's enormously influential work is that the human mind is capable of promoting the body's capacity for combating illness and healing itself even when faced with a seemingly hopeless medical predicament. The author recounts his personal experiences while working in close collaboration with his doctor to overco
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
Valerie Corby
Dec 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: medical, science, dnf
To me, it felt very scattered the way Cousins presented the information. He bounced around from one topic to another so fast, I got whip lash. I also felt that half of what he was discussing didn't pertain to the overall concept of the book.

This is the first book in a long time that I've not been able to finish. I stopped reading just 10 pages shy of the end. It got to a point where I would read a full page and not even remember 2 seconds later what it had been about. I was done at that point.

Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient" by Norman Cousins is a refreshing and powerful reminder of the power of the human mind and also of the capability of the human body to heal itself. "Attitude is everything" or "Perception is reality" sums up this book in three words. The power we have over our own bodies and minds (thoughts) is one of the things that differentiates us from lower species, and unfortunately, is something we are all too likely to forget, especially during times of ...more
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Short but sweet little book (you can read it in a day, no problem) that emphasizes the healing power of nature, or as Hippocrates called it, the vis medicatrix naturae. The idea that our bodies, if given the right environment, nutrients, and supports, can heal ourselves.

The author, Norman Cousins, tells the tale of his of his own recovery from a debilitating illness through high dose vitamins and laughter. I love the emphasis on good attitude and how crucial it can be for healing. My favorite p
Oct 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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“Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.” 98 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)” 17 likes
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