Imagination and Healing edited by Anees A. Sheik
Baywood Publishing Company, Inc., Farmingdale, N.Y., 1984, 291 pgs., $20.00, paperback
The separation of mind and body--the classic Cartesian dualism-- has so predominated Western thought that for most of us this century conventional medicine could not come to grips with the reality of the placebo effect and the power of positive imagery in curing physiological disorders. Fortunately, however, because of the breakthroughs in all areas of science (from quantum mechanics to ecology), we are beginning to move away from such a narrow and constricting viewpoint.
One excellent example of this new understanding in medicine is Imagination and Healing, edited by Anees A. Sheik. The work, which is part of a series on imagery and human development, is an anthology of papers presented at conferences at Marquette University in collaboration with the Institute for the Advancement of Human Behavior.
The result is a landmark study which displays convincingly the crucial role of the mind on human health. Topics range from "The Use of Imagery in Alleviating Depression" (K. David Schultz), "Imagery and Cancer" (Howard Hall) and "Imagery and the Treatment of Phobic Disorders" (Beverly K. Habeck and Anees A. Sheik) to "Sex, Fantasy and Imagination" (Kenneth S. Pope, et al.).
The strongest presentation is Gary E. Schwartz's "Psychophysiology of Imagery and Healing: A Systems Perspective." Instead of simply seeing man as one-dimensional (or, as Descartes would have it, two- dimensional), Schwartz points out the multidimensional characteristics of every person. Hence, true health treatment must take into account all the various factors of individual development.
The one minor drawback to Imagination and Healing is the absence of biographical information on its more than 15 contributors. This prevents the reader from learning about the particular author's background; such information is essential, especially in works that purport to be scholarly.
Still, I recommend Imagination and Healing highly for those
who feel that health should be in the hands of the patient and not
the doctor. Although hardly light reading, it will serve as a
valuable guideline to how imagery rightly employed can enhance
human vitality and growth.
--David Christopher Lane