The Inner Pulse: Unlocking the Secret Code of Sickness and Health

By Marc Siegel; Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated, 256pp, $25.95

Marc Siegel, a professor of medicine at NYU, writes about an ineffable but perceptible (though not measurable) "essential life force." This pulse acts as the "fulcrum of a person's life force. .. where the physical and the spiritual combine." Taking incidents from his life both personal and profession, Siegel relays how he learned to listen for and accept guidance from the pulse. He gives examples of how the force can be strengthened and focused, citing extraordinary rescues and feats and the exploits of Houdini and other magicians, arguing that tapping into it can bring an awareness of "the direction your health is heading." The doctor relates how he has been guided to perform diagnostic tests that have detected early cancers and other illnesses. Over the course of the book Siegel defines his concept in many often-metaphoric ways, alternatively referring to it as "the power that holds the body and the soul together"; "the strongest power in the body"; a person's "drive to live" or "survive"; the efficacy of "positive emotion and spirit" or "thinking" on a person's health; "magic," and other concepts, effectively circling an inherently vague spiritual concern ("how much we all still don't know") chapter upon chapter. Regardless, his contribution is an intriguing approach to the mind/body conundrum.

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