Exploring the Placebo Effect on the Mind

I am reviewing books through the Blogging for Books program in an effort to support my community’s Little Free Library, thus the addition of book reviews outside of the usual sexual health topics to Your Sexy Librarian postings. After being reviewed, the book gets stamped “Always a Gift, Never for Sale” and placed into a Little Free Library for others to enjoy.

My latest book selection is Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body written by award-winning science writer Jo Marchant, which was released on January 19. Cure is Marchant’s third book. Marchant’s Decoding the Heavens solves the mystery of the world’s first computer and The Shadow King explores the life of King Tut’s mummy.

Based in London, Marchant has a PhD in genetics and medical microbiology. Her formal education in science shines through in Cure in the way she presents material in this book. Marchant zipped around the world compiling research for Cure. She discusses the placebo effect, in which there is a beneficial effect of a medical treatment that is attributed to the mind itself because the treatment is inert, for various disease states, such as autism, chronic pain and Parkinson’s. She spoke to many doctors, researchers and patients for different perspectives on the placebo effect itself and looked at research about the placebo effect.

Marchant explores the nocebo effect, which is the opposite of the placebo effect, in which a negative expectation of a phenomenon causes it to have a greater negative effect than it otherwise would. She uses the present-day example of suspected mass poisoning of female students at Bibi Hajerah High School in Taluqan, Afghanistan, on May 23, 2012, to explain the nocebo effect in detail before giving examples of why the nocebo effect is essential for our survival as humans.

The cover design of Cure is reminiscent of a chemical structure, which is one reason I was drawn to this book. The back cover copy is clean and a good balance between kudos and author information. The book’s serif font is easy on the eyes while invoking strength and intelligence.

Cure is jam-packed with thought-provoking science. Readers who enjoy devouring science books will rejoice at this prime reading selection. At $16 for a paperback copy and $26 for a hardback, this book is a must buy for all those readers who enjoy science and medical literature.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.



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