Afterwards, You're a Genius: Faith, Medicine, and the Metaphysics of Healing

Chip Brown, Author
Chip Brown, Author Riverhead Books $24.95 (398p) ISBN 978-1-57322-113-9
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 12/01/1998
Though the subject of alternative medicine often leads to polarized and strident debate, Brown brings bracing intellectual balance and humor to his exploration of the ways in which faith and spirit contribute to physical healing. Brown, a former reporter for the Washington Post and an award-winning journalist, draws on extensive historical research, lectures and interviews with practitioners, and his own experiences as a patient in this engaging and provocative analysis. He points out that a ""longing for meaning"" drives the increasing numbers of people who seek alternatives to Western medicine. Drawn to practices based on the concept of ""chakras,"" or energy centers within the body, Brown is clearly sympathetic to alternative approaches, and he makes his exploration of the subject intensely personal. But his lively skepticism also leads him to question some tenets of spiritual healing and to acknowledge the real advances achieved by modern medical science. One of the book's best chapters brings the reader into the operating room of a cardiac surgeon as a bypass patient is helped during surgery by a healer who is present throughout the procedure. Another describes the complex feelings that evolve over Brown's long course of treatment with Rachel, an aspiring novelist as well as a healer, who reveals a disappointing egotism when she asks Brown to critique her newest manuscript. While this book offers no solid answers about how healing occurs, its value lies in the important questions it raises and in the genuine spirit of inquiry, buttressed by critical thinking, that Brown brings to his subject. (Jan.)
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