Norman Cousins Anatomy Of An IllnessDr Norman Cousins, author of “Norman Cousins Anatomy Of An Illness” was a longtime editor of the Saturday Review, global peacemaker, receiver of hundreds of awards including the UN Peace Medal and nearly 50 honorary doctorate degrees.

In 1964 following a very stressful trip to Russia, he was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (a degenerative disease causing the breakdown of collagen), which left him in almost constant pain and motivated his doctor to say he would die within a few months. He disagreed and reasoned that if stress had somehow contributed to his illness (he was not sick before the trip to Russia), then positive emotions should help him feel better. With his doctors’ consent, he checked himself out of the hospital and into a hotel across the street and began taking extremely high doses of vitamin C while exposing himself to a continuous stream of humorous films and similar “laughing matter”. He later claimed that 10 minutes of belly rippling laughter would give him two hours of pain-free sleep, when nothing else, not even morphine could help him.

1 minute testimonial:

11 minute movie summary:

His condition steadily improved and he slowly regained the use of his limbs. Within six months he was back on his feet, and within two years he was able to return to his full-time job at the Saturday Review. His story baffled the scientific community and inspired a number of research projects.

Click here to read the essence of his message in the transcription of a radio interview he gave in 1983 on the impact of positive emotions on health.

His 1979 book An Anatomy Of An Illness is a classic. (Read it for free here.)

Here is the (full) movie version of it:

Famous Quotes

  • The greatest force in the human body is the natural drive of the body to heal itself – but that force is not independent of the belief system. What we believe is the most powerful option of all.The control center of your life is your attitude.
  • On the quality of life: #1. Realize that each human has a built-in capacity for recuperation and repair, #2. Recognize that the quality of life is all important. #3. Assume responsibility for the quality of your own life. #4 Nurture the regenerative and restorative forces within you #5. Utilize laughter to create a mood in which the other positive emotions can be put to work for yourself and those around you. #6. Develop confidence and ability to feel love, hope and faith, and acquire a strong will to live.
  • The main trouble with despair is that it is self-fulfilling. People who fear the worst tend to invite it. Heads that bare down, can’t scan the horizon for new openings. Bursts of energy do not spring from a spirit of defeat. Ultimately, helplessness leads to hopefulness.
  • Each person carries his own inner doctor inside.
  • The growth of the human mind is still a high adventure. In many ways the highest adventure on earth.
  • The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started.

Documentary: The Inner Healer

…and here is a 25 minutes documentary on the healing power of faith and positive emotions that features Norman Cousins:

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