The 12 lectures in The Power of Mind over Body will change the way you think about disease as you investigate the implications of the vital but chronically understudied brain-body connection. Along with award-winning journalist and speaker Jo Marchant, who has spent her career studying the brain and the role it plays in physical health, you will explore the science behind phenomena like the placebo effect and hypnosis while digging deep into the consequences of pain, fatigue, and stress. You will examine therapies that utilize the power of the mind and you will get to know the scientists blazing a path forward. You will construct a powerful toolbox informed by years of research that will help you live a healthier and longer life.
The Power of Mind over Body
Jo Marchant is an award-winning journalist and speaker as well as the author of several popular books, including the New York Times bestseller Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind over Body. She earned a PhD in Genetics and Medical Microbiology from the Medical College of Saint Bartholomew’s Hospital. She has worked as a senior editor at New Scientist and Nature, and her articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, and Smithsonian magazine. Her speaking engagements have included appearances at the Royal Institution in London and the Edinburgh Science Festival.
01: How Your Mind Influences Your Body
What is the placebo effect? How does it work physiologically? Why do so many medical professionals dismiss its importance and impact? What can we learn from scientists like Jon Levine and Fabrizio Benedetti who work in placebo research? And why are some people more receptive to placebos than others? Explore these questions and more as you begin your exploration of the mind-body connection.
02: Harnessing the Placebo Effect
Continue your study of placebos by exploring the mechanics of pain. See how our brains contend with the prospect of harm. Determine if so-called “predictive coding” might explain why the placebo effect varies across populations. Unpack the efficacy and appeal of alternative medicine. And determine whether doctors can use placebos honestly and ethically.
03: How to Train Your Immune System
Most people know about conditioned responses thanks to Ivan Pavlov’s famous dog training experiments. But here, go even deeper. Determine how learned responses impact our immune systems and work out how we can train our bodies to more effectively respond to and even slow disease progression.
04: How to Fight Fatigue and Push Your Limits
What is the evolutionary and biological function of fatigue? When does the brain decide to call it quits on exercise, and why? How might expectations, memories, sensory experiences, and social circumstances affect athletic performance? And is it possible to break the cycle of chronic fatigue with therapy that targets the mind?
05: How Your Mind Rules Your Gut
Delve into the connection between your mind and gut by zeroing in on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a relatively common disorder that affects roughly 15% of the population. Then, turn your attention to the emergent field of psychogastroenterology, spotlighting innovative therapies—particularly hypnosis—that treat digestive problems by targeting the brain.
06: Easing Pain with Virtual Reality
Explore the pain management potential of virtual reality (VR). See what VR can do for long-lasting, chronic health problems. Walk through current research on the technology. And investigate how VR mimics the embodiment effect to treat body image disorders, phantom limb pain, and chronic regional pain syndrome.
07: How Caring Leads to Curing
Most of us already know that care networks are important when it comes to recovery, and we’ve learned that expectations can influence reality. So how can we couple caretaking with positive expectations to ease pain? And could quality care and so-called “comfort talk” actually lead to better disease outcomes? Explore these questions and more.
08: How to Beat Stress and Stay Young
Spend the rest of the course learning about how you can cultivate a more focused and relaxed mindset to live a healthier life overall. Investigate how chronic stress wreaks havoc on the body. Work to understand the impact of stress on different socioeconomic groups. And delve into the positive potential of stress.
09: Retraining Your Brain for Better Health
What can mindfulness offer when it comes to everyday living? First, explore what stress can do—physiologically, electrically, and chemically—to the brain. Then, delve into mindfulness as a concept and as a technique to see how simply mediating can reverse years of stress on the brain, reduce inflammation, and boost immunity.
10: How Friends Keep You Well
Explore the health benefits that come with having quality relationships. Examine what loneliness can do to our minds, bodies, and even DNA. And investigate how to target the problem of loneliness across all stages of life with techniques that range from compassionate parenting to volunteer programs for the elderly.
11: How Awe and Religious Belief Impact Health
Here, turn your attention to religiosity and spirituality. Does religious belief impact physical health? And if so, how? What are we to make of reports that religious practitioners are generally healthier and live longer than nonbelievers? And how does the unique feeling of awe affect one’s physical and mental state?
12: How a Revolution in Medicine Can Benefit You
Finish the course by reexamining the toolkit you’ve assembled over these 12 lectures, so that you can start building a life far less burdened by stress, pain, and illness. Then, discover what a real revolution in medicine—one attuned to the body-mind connection—would actually entail.