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Kitchen Table Wisdom
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About the Author

Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. has been counseling those with chronic and terminal illness for more than twenty years. She is cofounder and medical director of the Commonweal Cancer Help Program in Bolinas, California, and is currently clinical professor of family and community medicine at the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine.

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Speaking as a counselor of 20 years for the chronically and critically ill patient, Remen (Univ. of California at San Francisco Medical Sch.) uses a classic metaphor for human communication, "across the kitchen table," to unfold life-affirming stories from her practice and her own personal experiences with Chron's disease. She writes inspirationally about a new vision of healing and living that incorporates the value of the soul. More than a manual on holistic medicine, this collection of case studies takes readers from the beginning of the "life force" through the judgment traps of modern life into an open-hearted mystery of embracing life at a friend's table. Acknowledging the individual's healing abilities in her advocacy of alternative therapies, Remen points out that healing occurs on many levels. Refreshingly, her instruction is based on a broader view of medicine that replaces disconnection with celebration of the joy of being a fully healed human.‘Rebecca Cress-Ingebo, Fordham Health Sciences Lib., Wright State Univ., Dayton, Ohio

Remen is one of a growing number of physicians exploring the spiritual dimension of the healing arts. "Coherent, elegant, mysterious, aesthetic," she writes. "When I first earned my degree in medicine I would not have described life in this way. But I was not on intimate terms with life then." Now Remen is awed by the vitality of the life force, which she witnesses through her work counseling cancer patients and their doctors at Commonweal, a cancer-help center in California, and through her keen eye for the depths of ordinary people. Remen tells of those who, having fallen ill, discovered previously untapped wells of fortitude and who, ironically, gained a peace of mind they had never known when well. She often turns common wisdom on its head. Discussing the meaning of suffering, she cites one woman who mourned the loss of her chest pains after corrective surgery. These pains had come whenever she had compromised her integrity; now her "inner advisor" was gone. Some of the most poignant stories here are of doctors whose professional code rejects overt displays of emotion. Both patients and doctors can come to care profoundly for one another, Remen believes. A heartfelt call for change as well as a display of compassionate and courageous thinking, this meditation will speak especially to those whose lives have been touched by illness. BOMC and One Spirit alternate selections; first serial rights to Family Circle and New Age Journal. (Aug.)

"Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen is a pioneer in the medicine of the future. With the elegance of simplicitym, she shows how physicians can become healers by no longer remaining mere technicians of the human body, but by becoming alchemists of the soul." --Deepak Chopra, M.D.

"Rachel Naomi Remen is nature's gift to us, a genius of that elusive and crucial capacity, the human heart. She has much to teach us about healing, loving, and living." --Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., author of Emotional Intelligence "A book of stunning radiance, authenticity, and power. I laughed and cried my way through it, from beginning to end... Come share in this extraordinary outpouring of human wisdom." --Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., author of Wherever You Go, There You Are "Read these gorgeous, from-the-soul stories at the risk of burying cynicism, finding hope, learning a good deal more about life and living-- and having a damned good time." --Norman Lear

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