picture of three books stacked on top of each other: Suggestible You, The Magic Feather Effect, Breath and the AJB Recommends logo

AJB Recommends: When Is Healing a Placebo?

picture of three books stacked on top of each other: Suggestible You, The Magic Feather Effect, Breath and the AJB Recommends logoEmotional, social, and psychological stress causes a lot of pain and illness. Migraines, backaches, auto-immune disorders, skin conditions, gastrointestinal distress—all of these can arise from stress in our lives. And all of these things can be alleviated—at least in theory—by non-medical interventions. Is it healing or the placebo effect?

I’m researching my next book, which is about personal, spiritual, and social healing. I’m trying to understand the role of placebos and chemicals in the body and the brain, the role of modern medicine, and God’s role in healing in the 21st century.

I’ll have lots more to say about all these things in the months to come, but for now, I want to recommend three fascinating books that address these topics:

Suggestible You

Suggestible You: The Curious Science of Your Brain’s Ability to Deceive, Transform, and Heal by Erik Vance explores the relationship between the power of suggestion and healing. Vance talks about ways we can “trick ourselves” into healing ourselves. I am inclined to think these aren’t so much tricks as invitations to deeper inner healing work. Nevertheless, really interesting stuff here on the mind/body connection and how healing happens. (Also, Vance talked with Krista Tippett for On Being about this book here.)


Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor is all about the way breathing can harm us or heal us. I could not believe some of the stories Nestor tells about the health effects of breathing nor the ways breathing techniques can change our bodies. Again, fascinating and really accessible. (And Nestor talked with Terry Gross on Fresh Air here. And here’s an article about the “ice man” Wim Hof, who uses breathing techniques to stay immersed in ice for hours on end!?!)

The Magic Feather Effect

The Magic Feather Effect: The Science of Alternative Medicine and the Surprising Power of Belief by Melanie Warner. Warner explores alternative medical practitioners and their patients to uncover the way our brains respond to pain and the power within our brains to heal.

Learn more with Amy Julia:

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to receive regular updates and news. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, PinterestYouTube, and Goodreads, and you can subscribe to my Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast on your favorite podcast platforms.

Share this post

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Anita

    A very worthwhile topic. I hope the mind/body/spirtual connection continues to be explored and researched and shared as much as possible. Best wishes to you regarding your interest and output.

    1. Amy Julia Becker

      Thank you, Anita! I am fascinated by how this all interacts, so it is fun to be thinking/writing about it. Best wishes to you as well!

Leave a Reply