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Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  14,075 ratings  ·  783 reviews
2005 15th anniversary edition reprint

Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, is perhaps the best-known proponent of using meditation to help patients deal with illness. (The somewhat confusing title is from a line in Zorba the Greek in which the title character refers to the ups and downs of family life as "the
Kindle Edition, Revised, 722 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Bantam (first published 1990)
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Margaret Lukens Yes, absolutely. Nothing about it has changed. Using mindfulness-based stress reduction to manage pain or address PTSD, for example, has been validate…moreYes, absolutely. Nothing about it has changed. Using mindfulness-based stress reduction to manage pain or address PTSD, for example, has been validated by more recent studies. And more modern understandings of neuroscience only strengthen the recommendations to use mindfulness as an important component of healthcare.(less)

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Jul 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as part of my "get rid of psorisis in 2009" campaign. In my research, I read about a study where patients undergoing UV treatment for psorisis who listened to the body scan meditation associated with this book showed more improvement than patients who didn't. I'm not undergoing UV treatment, but I thought it couldn't hurt to see what this book has to say. Plus, I was intrigued by the title.

This is not a thin book. It is very, very long and as my library due date approached, I ha
David Sasaki
October and November were my months of self-help. I don't think I've ever read a self-help book in my life, but within four weeks I had read three.

I discovered Jon Kabat-Zinn after receiving dozens of messages of concern about my recent sleeplessness. Various types of meditation and breathing exercises were the most popular recommendations. Some suggested retreats, others classes, and others audio CDs. I figured I'd start with a guided audio CD, and if it didn't work then I'd enroll in a class
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-books
Full Catastrophe Living is a 650-page practical guide on how to cultivate a mindfulness-based approach to life. It is very well written. I have long wanted to learn about mindfulness as an adjunct to other forms of psychotherapy. I read it slowly and took notes over the past six months during my sabbatical from work. This review is for myself as a way of summing up my thoughts on mindfulness. Please do not feel obliged to read it.

Mindfulness is defined operationally as the awareness that arise
David Katzman
Mar 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
A useful sanitized version of Buddhism. Buddhism isn't mentioned once in the entire book, that I can recall. Instead the focus is about how the practices of meditation and mindfulness can help with stress reduction and pain relief.

Just as in The New Earth , which was too optimistic about the evolution of human consciousness (yet still a worthy book), John Cabot Zinn is too optimistic that medicine is becoming more integrated and aware of mind-body connections. It bothers me when practices are re
Feb 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a real mixed bag for me - simultaneously profound, moving and frustrating! I think it is a bit like eating a wholesome meal that is good for your body but not particularly tasty. You eat it, you know it is doing you good, but you secretly think a bit of extra flavour wouldn't go astray. The fact that I have given it four stars is testimony to the good aspects of this book, which were very, very good.

I will start with what I did NOT like. The book was more than 1000 pages long; I ca
Jan 19, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tough book to review.

I've taken a mindfulness class or two through my medical provider and Kabat-Zinn is clearly THE man, and this book THE reference for everything going on there.

And I think it's likely some, if not many, of the epiphanies and insights I experienced in the class I would've experienced here if I'd come to the material cold.

But since I didn't...

If you are interested in pursuing mindfulness/meditation but are worried about dealing with religious cant of one sort or another, JKZ ha
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
I'm assigning five stars based on the book's content and thoroughness. The real value remains to be determined after consistent practice of the program.

Most people will only be drawn to a program like this after a health crisis or other major life stressor. There is a significant daily time commitment, especially for the first 8 weeks of practice. I've had to eliminate some non-essential activities from my life to make time for this work.

The book gives you a chance to simulate the 8-week progr
This book found me just after I returned to the city after a long intensive retreat, living in the mountains. I knew I couldn't stay in the city and I was overwhelmed with decisions. JKZ introduced to me to a new way of integrating my life. I will be forever grateful.

here is a link to a recent talk

Michael Perkins
The concept of mindfulness has been oversold. I took a course on it at Stanford, with this book as the supporting text, and it was pretty bogus. Some of the folks in the group were mentally ill and needed professional therapy
This is a lovely beginners guide to mindfulness. As far as mindfulness-books-written-by-a-white-person go, and boy howdy are there quite a few!

Less fat-shaming than a Tara Brach book which is good news.

Lisa Vegan
This is the book that got me started on a mindfulness meditation practice.

Of course, at around the same time I was reading it, I took a MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) class and was working with a mindfulness psychotherapist, so it’s hard to review the book on its own; the class was essential for me as just reading the book might not have spurred me on. Meditation is very difficult, especially at the beginning, at least it was/is for me. And, even though Kabat-Zinn says it's not at al
I was intimidated by the bulk of this book, but unnecessarily so. Some reviewers say it's repetitive - I agree but I think the point of the book is to read it and then refer to parts that apply to your specific situation, without having to brush up on basics covered elsewhere.

The book is divided into five parts:
* Part I deals with mindfulness techniques - I really appreciate the fact that it gives detailed pointers on how to raise your meditation practice from satisfactory to deep
* Part II deal
Brad Harkins
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Health problems? Traditional medicine has let you down? Curious about meditation and it's benefits on your health? This book may be for you. It helped me in various ways and will continue to. It outlines and guides you through the 8 week stress reduction program that Kabat-Zinn teaches at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Case studies are included on people who suffer (sometimes horribly) from a wide range of health issues. Anything from just stress, to panic attacks, to heart dise ...more
Carol Peacock
I am a huge proponent of mindfulness, but felt this book needed a strong editor. I found many parts of it highly repetitive.
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My therapist recommended this book to me and it was SO SO SO helpful.
Mario the lone bookwolf
On the core areas of meditation, yoga and mindfulness focused laying the foundation stone of a new form of therapy

Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.

An understandable guide to an intensive, 8-week program to treat a variety of mental, psychosomatic and physical ailments can be found in this work. The "mindful-based stress reduction" program allies traditional relaxation techniques, yoga exercises, walking meditation, mindfu
Aubree Deimler
This was a long 600 page journey filled with such wisdom. Jon Kabat-Zinn's words are divine. He beautifully describes the magic of mindful living and how this greatly benefits those living with chronic illness, pain and stress.

He goes into great detail about the mindfulness stress reduction program and includes many stories of success from past participants. I've noticed big shifts in my own life since I started reading this one. I highly recommend this to anyone dealing with chronic pain and/o
Apr 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ei-fiktio
Great content, less impressive presentation

Jon Kabat Zinn's Full Catastrophe Living is one of the most recommended mindfulness books out there. It's easy to see why. Besides an excellent 8-week mindfulness program, the book offers thorough guidance for all fields of life. There's a lot of information stored within the covers.

The 8-week mindfulness program is easily worth 4 stars or more, but the presentation drops my rating. First of all, Jon Kabat-Zinn is not a very engaging writer. He leaves n
It took me a long time to get through this book. Not because I disagree with any of it (I don't), but because this book, IMHO, desperately needed an editor, or at least a more assertive editor than it had. The material is excellent, but probably could have been presented in half the number of pages. The organization seemed poor, and consequently, there were many times where I felt like I was being told something I had already been told...and had not just been told twice or three times, but ten t ...more
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Four weeks after starting MBSR, I broke multiple bones and had a compound fracture while rock climbing. It took two hours for a helicopter to pick me up and during that whole time, I was cool and collected while I focused on my breath and the sensations across my whole body.

MBSR helped me through three surgeries and six months of not being able to walk unassisted. It gave me a framework on how to think about pain, emotions and what it means to be able-bodied.

I've been practicing and learning ab
Gregory K.
May 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: counseling
The title of this book is a little bit misleading. When you see the word "Catastrophe" you might think that this is a book that will help you in a crisis. In reality though this book is more about gently changing your perspective so you are better able to handle future problems. And even these goals are also loose and unfocused (as the rambling subtitle might suggest), so it may be best to tackle this book when you have lots of time and emotional energy to spend on a reading project. You will ne ...more
Sep 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book! I've read several books on mindfulness and meditation over the years, but none of them were actually practical. This book explains clearly not only the reasons why you should train yourself to practice mindfulness but also how to do it. It lays out Kabat-Zinn's 8-wk meditation immersion from his stress reduction clinic associated with UMass medical center, where physicians send their patients with the most difficult chronic medical conditions for relief that can't be had with medic ...more
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sped read through this after a while. The basic info & concepts are good, but the author took way too many pages to articulate them. This was not a first addition. It would be much more likely to help people if edited better, removing so much repetition.
Feb 23, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2022
When I started this book, I didn’t know what to expect. In many ways, the path it took me on is worth way more than five stars, but since the book itself is unnecessarily long, I have to take a star off.
The writing is lovely, much of the information is useful, but it is repetitive.
I tried the MBSR program described using the author’s JKZ app, and it is wonderful. Life-changing, really. I hope to continue practicing for years to come.
Julia Li
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-reads
Insightful & a great starting point for beginners looking into mindfulness and meditative strategies!
Jun 08, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
I am a big fan of meditation and mindfulness, and was actually very much looking forward to this book. Unfortunately it is too verbose and repetitive to be helpful or even enjoyable. I had to stop reading it after 50% because I could not see any structure nor understand what Kabat-Zinn was going after in chaotic and seemingly endless paragraphs on the importance of self-awareness and the present moment. Too much pseudo-philosophical blabla and too little focus on what is important in practice. H ...more
Life can be crazy and hectic. It seems like there are never enough hours in the day and that 'To Do' list grows ever longer. So it sounds pretty crazy to dedicate 45 minutes of an overly scheduled day to yoga and meditation. But Kabat-Zinn gives compelling evidence that we really do need to clear our minds, not only for our sanity, but for our physical well being. I am convinced that he is right. But, still have not incorporated either into my life... Another thing to add to that To Do list. ...more
Katie Curlee Hamblen
Drags at times because it's just so long, but the lessons are invaluable. This was totally indispensable when I became seriously ill. And really, although he's pretty wordy, Jon Kabat-Zinn's special combination of kindness and rationality shine through. ...more
Cliff Moyce
Aug 21, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Beyond repetitive. Beyond boring. I have had to read a lot of books on pain management (for unfortunate reasons not of my choosing) and this is by far the worst. He needed an editor. A real editor.
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Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., is founding Executive Director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is also the founding director of its renowned Stress Reduction Clinic and Professor of Medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He teaches mindfulness and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) ...more

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