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Summary

This riveting narrative explores the world of placebos, hypnosis, false memories, and neurology to reveal the groundbreaking science of our suggestible minds. Could the secrets to personal health lie within our own brains? Journalist Erik Vance explores the surprising ways our expectations and beliefs influence our bodily responses to pain, disease, and everyday events. Drawing on centuries of research and interviews with leading experts in the field, Vance takes us on a fascinating adventure from Harvard's research labs to a witch doctor's office in Catemaco, Mexico, to an alternative medicine school near Beijing (often called "China's Hogwarts"). Vance's firsthand dispatches will change the way you think - and feel.

Continuing the success of National Geographic's brain books and rounding out our pop science category, this book shows how expectations, beliefs, and self-deception can actively change our bodies and minds. Vance builds a case for our "internal pharmacy" - the very real chemical reactions our brains produce when we think we are experiencing pain or healing, actual or perceived. Supporting this idea is centuries of placebo research in a range of forms, from sugar pills to shock waves; studies of alternative medicine techniques heralded and condemned in different parts of the world (think crystals and chakras); and, most recently, major advances in brain mapping technology. Thanks to this technology, we're learning how we might leverage our suggestibility (or lack thereof) for personalized medicine, and Vance brings us to the front lines of such study.

©2016 Erik Vance (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Makes you question everything you have ever felt!

This book reveals the complex nature of how we humans interpret the world and how easily we bend our interpretation of reality to our expectations. It leaves you questioning all the things that you feel and things you do to make your self better. Questioning all your memories and their veracity. I think you will come out the otherside a more critical and analytical person who at the same time is more open minded to the mystical. I very much reccomended it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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An amazing book

This book is one I’ve been raving about to friends. It explores placebo and health cate beliefs like no book I’ve read before. It was well researched, evidence based and amazing. Exceptionally well written.

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Inspiring

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutely.

Any additional comments?

Loved it! So positive and refreshing. Opens so many doors for self-discovery and open-mindedness. Very original. Highly recommend.

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incredibly informative

An enjoyable journey. A wonderful narrative replete with thought-provoking information. leaving, as all good books should do, as many questions as answers

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Profile Image for mark o reilly
  • mark o reilly
  • 13-04-17

Overstates it's central premise but interesting

Overall it contains a lot of fascinating topics and covers relevant research in an engaging way. The issues crop up around the central concept of the book; the effectiveness of placebos. It basically oversells the idea and doesn't do more than a brief mention of alternative explanations, essentially amounting to a hand wave of information counter to the idea of powerful placebos.

Narration is fine for the most part, it just reads a little slow so for the first time ever I found myself ramping it up to 1.3 speed. That might be related to me not fully engaging in the material and being a little skeptical of its content.

44 of 46 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Matt C
  • Matt C
  • 26-11-16

Very interesting book, I have recommended to several others

It is rare that I write a review but this book deserves a good review.
Has changed the way I view many things like faith healers, supplements, hypnotism and placebos.

Great journey into the human mind and how memory meets expectation, suggestion and placebo.

Couldn't stop listening to it. I also see where a great many people who struggle with some of the problems listed as being very susceptible to placebo like addiction, depression, IBS, or even Parkinson's may really appreciate learning the truth about the drugs they are being given.

Highly recommend.

Also, there is a great appendix that is a hypnotic induction to reduce pain during dental work! I'm going to cue it up next time I'm in the chair!

36 of 38 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Gillian
  • Gillian
  • 02-05-17

Is The Power Within Us? Well, Maybe...

Vance starts this book with the story of how he was cured of a deadly disease through his Christian Scientist background. A story of faith. And that's what flows through "Suggestible You". It's a story of placebos, curses/hexes, hypnosis, suggestibility, and even false memories.
The placebo effect gets the vast majority of airtime, but the anecdotes are compelling. I just listened to an NPR episode of a writer who helped come up with a Write Better, Quicker placebo and who wound up, hilariously, abusing it, so this was all fairly fascinating.
Most of the book is history and stories, but the latter two hours or so are how we can harness them in our daily lives. We can get through food cravings because the placebo effect has the effect of raising dopamine levels, just like food. We can run faster, have better sex, live with less pain, and we can even question our bad memories of trauma, our lousy childhoods.
Paul Michael Garcia does a decent enough job, but I dinged him a star because what humor is in the book is kinda sorta just lost. I mean, how can you make the comparison of having pain tolerance and listening to a Justin Bieber album unfunny? Uhm, Garcia can...
A decent enough book, just be prepared for a lengthy, lengthy discussion of placebos and how, basically, we're responsible for ourselves and our states of health.
Fascinating in its discussion of how Parkinson's disease can be helped, fascinating on how memories can be clouded, but it's a bit like a two-by-four over the head.
Still, who likes side-effects when there's the chance we can live without them?
It's all a matter of expectations and suggestibility. I suggest the listen, but I also suggest it as a sale item rather than a full credit. Unless you're looking for relief that's in your hands...

90 of 99 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Paul Miller
  • Paul Miller
  • 09-12-16

Associations and Expectations

If you frequently question certainty along with the nature of being and why we do the things we do, this book is for you. "Suggestible You" presents so much of this in a cool and easy format, with the author often presenting a sense of humor mixed intellect. He covers a wide range of beliefs and expectations, the biochemistry of placebos and nocebos, along with strange experiences to even the unexplainable; the sciences are still quite incapable (it's a growing dilemma) of proving just what the heck is going on within our brains and the power of belief, radical or not.
It's a delightful insight into the associations and expectations that drive us and make us who we are.
Highly recommended.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Darrell Moore
  • Darrell Moore
  • 04-06-17

Hard to Believe

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Well I'm not sure what would have made this better but a lot of what this guy says just doesn't appear to be as believable to me as he points out. I would like to think that some of the healing methods outside of western medicine has validity and not just tricks of the mind.

Has Suggestible You turned you off from other books in this genre?

No.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Dissapointment and skepticism.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Danijel M.
  • Danijel M.
  • 05-05-17

Interesting but a bit boring listen 👂

If you are examining science of a brain you will be familiar with most cases mentioned here. Interestingly enough some authors use them to demonstrate there is no such thing as hypnosis while this one sees them as a proof.

It's a hopeful view and offers a good case for your internal medicine store vs. the external drugs.

Reading performance was a bit slow for my taste. Also, I was under the impression as if the reader was trying to sell me on ideas instead of just presenting them. This is of course completely subjective so please listen to a demo first. I fell a sleep to it twice.

On a few occasions author gives his "subtle" opinion on popular icons such as Justin Bieber. I guess these were supposed to be funny and work in favor of getting to the same page as author but they work both ways and in my opinion paint it as unprofessional. Then again these moments are rare and short.

Overall I'd still recommend this audio book as it gives hope yet has some solid science behind it. Thank you!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Jim from New Mexico
  • 02-07-17

Fantastic science book and Outstanding Reader

Would you consider the audio edition of Suggestible You to be better than the print version?

This book is excellent in every way. While it is a bit long, it kept me engaged throughout. I was on the last chapter when I started a long road trip with my 12 year old granddaughter and 10 year old grandson. They were bored and I suggested that maybe I had a book on my phone they might enjoy. I looked through my library and finally suggested that they listen to the end of this book with me, thinking that they MIGHT listen to the rest of the chapter with me without declaring it boring. To my surprise, they asked to listen to it from the beginning and they hounded me every step of the road trip to play the book because "it is so interesting". We listened to the entire book and I can say that not only did they enjoy it, I enjoyed it as much the second time as I did the first. Outstanding reading performance as well. When we got to the appendix on hypnosis, I must say the performance was so good, i had to ignore part of it and have a conversation with my wife once in a while for fear that I might be in the 10% of the population that is easily hypnotized as I was driving through a mountain pass at the time!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Michael McKee
  • Michael McKee
  • 14-12-16

I didn't know I was so gullible.

If you could sum up Suggestible You in three words, what would they be?

fascinating, entertaining, educational

Who was your favorite character and why?

Luana Colloca and her enthusiasm for placebo response and pain.

Have you listened to any of Paul Michael Garcia’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Haven't before but think he did a good job on this book.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was fascinated.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • jhammett
  • 16-12-16

Life Changing

Fascinating and empowering... you will be entertained while discovering some of the hidden superpowers of your mind.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Marlene
  • Marlene
  • 18-11-16

Very interesting and well written

This book made me realise what a difference a good science writer makes when it comes to making scientific material entertaining and accessible. Fascinating book.

9 of 13 people found this review helpful