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The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  249 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Since ancient times humans have felt intuitively that emotions and health are linked, and recently there has been much popular speculation about this notion. But until now, without compelling evidence, it has been impossible to say for sure that such a connection really exists and especially how it works.

Now, that evidence has been discovered.

A thrilling scientific detecti
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published May 7th 2001 by Times Books (first published May 23rd 2000)
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Nov 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. Looking at the way stress can overcome the immune system and explaining the process based on actual scientific results had me turning the pages faster than usual. I usually get stuck in medical tomes, as the scientific names overwhelm my limitations, but the subject matter here was different.

...a rich and varied fabric of positive relationships can be the strongest net to save us in our times of deepest need.

The book is written almost as a court case would be designed, in that each
Paula Cappa
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are struggling with an illness, this book is an eye-opening achievement in brain-body interactions and brain-immune system communications regarding healing. A wealth of evidence supports that “emotions and health are one.” Dr. Esther Sternberg has done 5-star research on this and takes it deep into the scientific core in easy to understand language. She reminds us that our brains have maps of our relationships. Loss, loneliness, rejection, isolation, disappointment, fears, anxiety and str ...more
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: curiousity
The book has been a good read, but I felt that it was touching the same topics that probably so many other articles. But having liked the style of writing I am pleased to recommend this book to someone who is new to the field.
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating look at the history behind the discoveries that the immune system, endocrine system and the brain are all intertwined. Very specific medical information and basic science about the mind-brain interaction and the many ways stress affects us.
Dec 04, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book, and kept plodding along until I'd finished it, but I honestly didn't get much from it. To be fair, it is very complex subject matter. The level of detail was uneven, in many places giving specific citations for research studies on immune responses, but in others stating vague (and to me, unconvincing) generalities. For instance, the subject of dominance hierarchies was invoked with some hand-waving and simplistic statements (pretty clearly not in the author's wheelhou ...more
Chole Allyson
Aug 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. It helped me to remember that being a health care worker isn't just about helping to ease the disease or illness. Being a health care worker is about helping the patient as a whole, physically and spiritually. As we care for the spirit the body can also be cared for. Sometimes the patient can become healthier while their spirit is being nourished. Being happy is contagious and we need to remember that everyone is a child of God.
Fran Mason
Sep 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Very technical, to me, slow going.
Chiara Mantovani
The author takes you in an interesting journey on the recent developments and discoveries on the connection between the disciplines of immunology, endocrinology and nervous systems.
The underlying idea is that modern medicine has been alienating people due to its over specialisation and over reliance on purely physical effects fn illnesses, ignoring the psychological factor.
Thus people have been turning towards alternative types of medicine, more emphatic and focused on the psychologycal aspect
Woody Hayday
Oct 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: burnout
Sternberg does well to ground the reader as she weaves geographical and architectural introductions into many chapters, before blowing your head off with some science, and overall she manages to convey the fascinating depths of the scientific best working-model understanding of emotion-immune system interplay.

I'd recommend this to anyone seeking to understand more about stress, and emotional impacts on health, but not to vaguely interested parties. Though the author manages in many places to pul
Mar 23, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is riddled with mistakes. I have a degree in pharmacology so most of the underlying material I have learn at university. At first, I thought I did not remember things properly. But then.. Author talks about Harvey Cushing and says he is a British physician. Having just read a well over 500 pages biography on the guy, I can assure you he was american. He was born in Cleveland. Spent most of his life in America. He spent a brief period overseas during his residency but that’s about it. P ...more
Dana Paxson
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some works raise one's eyebrows at the very beginning, but then carry the reader into strange new territories of thought and meaning. Sternberg links our emotions and our bodily and mental health at the very-detailed and disciplined levels of our immune systems, their responses to stress, and the resulting impacts on the way our brains cope with the consequent chemical changes. A vital new perspective.
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, descriptive, informative and suitable for the most unprepared reader. It takes you on a journey throughout the history of medical research in neuroscience, physiology, anatomy and other related fields and shows how we've learnt what we know today about the brain-immune connections. It's a truly enjoyable read.
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As my human biology is rusty at best, the book is a bit challenging at times to keep everything straight in terms of how the endocrine system works in our bodies, but this book is fascinating. Dr Sternberg presents information at a steady rate, building up the reader's understanding of what's going on in our brains and our bodies and connecting science with emotion.
Daniel Spaniel
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful and accessible summary of Sternberg's research and anecdotal understanding of how we are all subject to complex factors that control and influence our levels of stress, inflammation, and ultimately well being.
I read this book as part of a book group. I cannot remember much of it because I found it quite tedious and technical.
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
fantastic read. highly interesting. i love the imagery the author managed to write in in such a technical and science filled book. super recommended.
Megi Llubani
Feb 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting but hard to follow for a person outside the field.
Duncan Robertson
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The mind and immune system are intertwined from birth, yet modern medical science has until recently considered them as entirely separate entities. In The Balance Within, Dr. Sternberg attempts an explanation of the complex interactions between the two systems, and why medical science took so long to uncover them. The story and content of this research is the epicentre of this book. Her message is simple, yet confounding to many doctors: a holistic approach is necessary to truly understand how t ...more
Margaret Pinard
Fascinating! I admit my eyes glazed over a bit reading about receptors on cells, interleukins, lymphocytes, and such, but much of the text was related in an easy to explain manner. Sternberg used metaphors and explained the order of events clearly so that even non-medical readers could get the gyst of the experiments she describes.
It's not at all a 'woo-woo' book, even the chapters that talk about the possible effects of belief at the end. I enjoyed learning about the body's stress response, its
Jul 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I was really excited to hear about this book - can't say no to something that plugs my own research interests. Unfortunately I didn't get as much out of it as I'd hoped - when I picked it up I hadn't realized that the book is now more than 10 years old (most of the research cited is from the mid to late '90s), and the field has moved forward since then. I also felt that, in some places, the writing style was a bit florid... Nevertheless, this is a good introduction to Health Psychology-related i ...more
Sarah Evan
the second half of this book is really where it picked up for me. going beyond human biology, the exploration of health and human really was of interest, however, it still lacked the *emotional* part, including where psychology/counseling fits into it all. (as if doctors are the only ones who can provide emotional support, huh?!)
Vincent Eaton
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Using historical and contemporary science, this expert traces, and connects, through molecules, brain-immune connections and the numerous physiological responses that tie emotions and health. Which I have known for many years, and am grateful it receives wider analysis with in the medical community.
Aug 10, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well written popular science book with lots of good details about how the immune and nervous systems are connected. There is not a huge amount of difficult jargon and provides a good introduction to different areas of the brain and how hormone signals cause immune response.
Sep 15, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-nonfiction
...subject matter is interesting, and her NPR interviews were enjoyable, but the text is dry and not terribly revelatory to my personal world view of the symbiosis of personal mental & physical health...still, there are worse reads out there... ...more
Principle Based Learning
(recommended by Karin)
This is just what the title says, and very well written. Good science.

Click here for the full article on: Health and Nutrition
Dec 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-non-fiction
Great read. I assign this book and a paper on it every time I teach Health Psychology. Something anyone interested in how their health care is determined (and how it might/should be changing)should read.
Paul De Belder
Apr 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stem
The book is a bit dated, of course (2000), but it is an interesting layman's introduction to the subject. The criticisms on the "traditional" science are often a bit too much straw man arguments, but the message is valid: get out of your specialty and look at the broader picture.
Oct 07, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am learning so much about the science of why stress makes us vulnerable to short term & chronic illness. it's all coming together hooray!
I just had to reread this... so poignant right now!
Aug 29, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well done description of science developing re connection between brain and pituitary, hypothalmus, adrenal in regard to inflammatory diseases and mental health
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