The Balance Within
The Science Connecting Health and Emotions
By Esther M. Sternberg, M.D.
(Times Books, Paperback, 9780716744450, 250pp.)
Publication Date: May 2001
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Since ancient times humans have felt intuitively that emotions and health are linked, and recently there has been much popular speculation about this notion. But until now, without compelling evidence, it has been impossible to say for sure that such a connection really exists and especially how it works.
Now, that evidence has been discovered.
A thrilling scientific detective story, The Balance Within tells how researchers finally uncovered the elusive mind-body connection and what it means for our health. In this beautifully written book, Dr. Esther Sternberg, whose discoveries were pivotal in helping to solve this mystery, provides first hand accounts of the breakthrough experiments that revealed the physical mechanisms - the nerves, cells, and hormones - used by the brain and immune system to communicate with each other. She describes just how stress can make us more susceptible to all types of illnesses, and how the immune system can alter our moods. Finally, she explains how our understanding of these connections in scientific terms is helping to answer such crucial questions as "Does stress make you sick?" "Is a positive outlook the key to better health?" and "How do our personal relationships, work, and other aspects of our lives affect our health?"
A fascinating, elegantly written portrait of this rapidly emerging field with enormous potential for finding new ways to treat disease and cope with stress, The Balance Within is essential reading for anyone interested in making their body and mind whole again.
Esther M. Sternberg, M.D., is Director, Integrative Neural Immune Program, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health. She was trained in rheumatology at McGill University and practiced medicine in Montreal before returning to a research career and teaching at Washington University in St. Louis. The winner of the Public Health Service Superior Service Award and President of the International Society for Neuroimmunomodulation, Dr. Sternberg has written over one hundred scientific papers, reviews, and book chapters on the subject of brain-immune connections. She lectures nationally and internationally on emotions, health and disease.
"Dr. Sternberg weaves historical perspective, recent lab results, academic rigor, and popular appeal into an engrossing book."
—Dallas Morning News
"One of the best books on emotions and health."
"A tour de force, a romp through centuries of scientific discovery written by an expert in the field who brings us to that point where mind speaks to body."
—Abraham Verghese, author of The Tennis Partner
"The Balance Within delivers the latest scientific advances in prose that is clear and arrestingly beautiful. Sternberg has a gift for the illustrating detail, the clarifying allusion, the telling metaphor. With The Balance Within, Esther Sternberg joins Steven J. Gould, Richard Dawkins, and Edward Wilson in the current pantheon of great biology writers."
—Francisco J. Ayala, Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences, University of California, Irvine
"Few science books are a beautiful read but The Balance Within achieves exactly that. Esther Sternberg not only illuminates the connections between emotion and health with fascinating precision, but she manages to evoke the emotions themselves, from sunlight happiness to sheltering serenity."
—Deborah Blum, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of Sex on the Brain, Professor of Journalism, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"This refreshing personal saga of research on brain-body interactions knits together historic vignettes with recent experimental approaches. The book is a welcome addition at a time when considerable puzzlement and confusion exists regarding alternative or complementary medicine. We learn to respect the powerful influences exerted by the brain on body function."
—Joseph Martin, M.D., Dean of Harvard University Medical School
"Many of the most pressing contemporary health problems are related to the everyday stressors of contemporary society. In this groundbreaking work, Dr. Esther Sternberg charts the mechanisms by which everyday stressors affect health and well being as well as the means for minimizing their deleterious effects."
—John T. Cacioppo, Ph.D., Tiffany & Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor, The University of Chicago