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Record Type: Review   ID: 954

Minding the Body: Clinical Uses of Somatic Awareness

Bakal, Donald

Bakal thoroughly describes the concept of somatic awareness, "an innate wisdom that people have about their own psychobiological health.…[It includes] the mental processes by which we perceive, interpret, and act on information within consciousness" (p. 4). This book is about applying somatic awareness by individuals to maintain their health. Somatic awareness is already used in various ways in biofeedback, relaxation, and other forms of self-regulation therapy. It also is used in various psychospiritual techniques that promote personal and spiritual growth, as in the Feldenkrais technique and Tai Chi. Bakal applies it to biomedical healing in which, in effect, "the healing processes that are part of the placebo effect" are shifted to somatic awareness. Somatic awareness represents the systematic and unifying experiential equivalent of the placebo effect" (p. 96). Bakal sees the importance of incorporating it in a doctor-patient partnership in which both parties are involved in creating the treatment, combining the biomedical knowledge and experience of the physician with the unique experiential knowledge of the patient/participant.

This work is not aimed at a popular audience but anyone with an interest in understanding healing, especially self-healing, would benefit from reading it. Although the book is based primarily on medical experiments and case studies, overly technical terminology is not used. I read every word and wished for more. I’ve checked many items in the excellent bibliography that I would like to follow up on. Minding the Body offers an exciting experiential approach to bodymindspirit as regards self-healing of many ailments from asthma to cancer.

Publisher Information:New York: Guilford, 1999. Pp. viii + 228. Bibl: 207-220; Ind: 221-228
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