Site Logo

Book Review: How Healing Works

In a nutshell: Western medicine would have us believe that we need expensive medications, treatment, surgeries, etc. to heal from chronic and acute illness. Dr. Wayne Jonas argues that 80% of healing happens outside the doctor's office. We are born with an innate and natural ability to heal ourselves. The key takeaway is incredibly uplifting and inspiring: you have far more control over your health and your body’s ability to fight disease than you know. Healing begins with mindset, and that is ultimately within your control.

We will cite some of our favorite passages in this post, I hope that you enjoy this book as much as we did and find it helpful and insightful.

"Before science, we had only superstition or intuition to guide us to truth. Both were flawed when it came to healing. With science, we have approaches for testing our ideas in small ways and making incremental advances in our understanding. Occasionally, these incremental advances result in a major impact -- such as with the discovery of penicillin or vaccines. Before science, an epidemic was considered as act of God. After science it became a containment challenge. We could now do more than pray.


We lose those discoveries, and we get lured into using this type of science for everything, looking for the cure in an attempt to eliminate the disease we have named. We train our scientists and practitioners to look for those cures. We structure our health care system to look for those cures and treat all diseases and illnesses as if we have found the cures. We pay for these treatments, even when the benefit of the treatment is small, the risks large, and the harms poorly understood. We love this type of science -- the science of the small and particular. We love it so much that we use it when we should not. Left to our own intuitive devices, we will pick an attempt to cure over healing or prevention almost all of the time. "

How Healing Works - Pages 65 and 66.

This quote does a great job of wrapping up the basic message of the book. Our system's obsession with the "small and particular" has lead us to only look for double-blind placebo controlled studies, and throw out intuition, anecdotal evidence, "old" medicine, Eastern medicine, holistic remedies, etc.

What we loved most about this book is that he doesn't just spend the entire time poking holes in modern medicine (while he does poke a few here and there). Mainly, he wants to teach his readers how to heal. Not by focusing just on the cure, but the process of healing itself.

"In condition after condition, system after system, and person after person, I found three common factors that induced healing: (1) the rituals that helped a person have a meaningful experience, (2) the support of the whole person, and (3) the regular stimulations of a biological response. The specific treatments and agents used varied person, culture, theory and place, the processes were the same. Whole systems science showed us that a person is an ecosystem -- more like a garden to be tended than a car to be fixed. "

How Healing Works - Page 89

Overall, this book is a fabulous introduction to a new way of thinking about disease, lifestyle, healing and the beliefs that we have around these concepts. We highly recommend giving it a read.

Finally, a little bit about the author, from the author:

"This book argues that the vast majority of healing comes from a few basic principles that can be used effectively by any system -- ancient or modern, conventional or alternative, proven or unproven -- and by both doctors and patients in their daily lives. The secret: to elicit a meaningful response in the person who requires healing.

My approach is based on almost forty years of seeing patients as a mainstream family doctor, as a trained scientist, and as an explorer of many medical systems. I discovered how healing happens through my work with patients, as director of the Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and as a research scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and Samueli Insitute. "

How Healing Works - Page VIII

A Piece of Mind

Sign up for our weekly email. No marketing, no ads - Just a five-minute read to make you think, change your perspective or offer clarity.

A Piece of Mind

Sign up for our weekly email. No marketing, no ads - Just a five-minute read to make you think, change your perspective or offer clarity.

Emergency Resources

Minds Matter does not provide crisis or emergency services. If you or someone you know is currently suicidal, violent, severely confused, paranoid, or hallucinating, IMMEDIATELY CALL 911. 

After the immediate crisis, click here for a list of resources for assistance with suicidality, substance abuse, or severe mental health symptoms such as paranoia, delusions (losing touch with reality), or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there.)