Suggestible You: The Curious Science of Your Brain's Ability to Deceive, Transform, and Heal By Erik Vance
Sometimes it is good to read a book by a total skeptic. I would assume this would go well with the "Reason Magazine" Readers' Club. It is from the viewpoint of a former Christian Science member.
Vance tells of his personal experience of being "healed" by faith as a young man. As he grew up, he became more curious. This book is an investigative journalist's look into all things related to the power of the mind. He investigates faith healers, hypnotists, alternative medicine, pharmaceutical treatments - even surgeries.
The take-away for me is that the mind is a powerful thing, which, in a way, kind of leads back to "Science of the Mind" type religions. That is not his conclusion, simply an observation.
I really appreciated the research that went into this book. The author personally visited acupuncturists, pagan healers, hypnotists, and more in an effort to see this stuff up close. There is a dreary conclusion that almost none of it is real, yet, through much of this, the mind is able to "work" for us.
Placebos are just about as effective as most medicines and supplements out there. Even some surgeries are mostly aided by the concept of "hope." There appears to be a certain power of the spoken word that is woven through most treatments. Doctors can aid treatments with a simple phrase or two designed to bring hope to the mind.
Sadly, psychologists have been trained to bring suggestion into the game as well. The most intriguing part of this book, for me was the discussion of false memories. Child psychologists have been trained how to bring out of a child the exact result that he is looking for. This very thing caught much of the world by surprise in the 70's and 80's as families were destroyed by sudden testimonies of so called repressed memories of unimaginable terror. It was eventually proven that this was a bogus science and that memories were being implanted in children. This created trauma as well as broken lives. Hypnotists can achieve similar results from their "tricks" if they are employed.
In a sense, the author celebrates his findings, and I think we can too. For me, it shows me the tremendous strength of design. It brings me closer to the Creator. "Suggestible You" was worth reading. I gained insight from Vance's testimony and research.