Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dr. Ellen Langer | Counterclockwise: Can We Reverse Aging by Changing How We Think?



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S Y N O P S I S 

If we could turn back the clock psychologically, could we also turn it back physically? For more than thirty years, award-winning social psychologist Ellen Langer has studied this provocative question, and now, in Counterclockwise, she presents the answer: Opening our minds to what’s possible, instead of presuming impossibility, can lead to better health–at any age. Drawing on landmark work in the field and her own body of colorful and highly original experiments–including the first detailed discussion of her “counterclockwise” study, in which elderly men lived for a week as though it was 1959 and showed dramatic improvements in their hearing, memory, dexterity, appetite, and general well-being–Langer shows that the magic of rejuvenation and ongoing good health lies in being aware of the ways we mindlessly react to social and cultural cues. Examining the hidden decisions and vocabulary that shape the medical world (“chronic” versus “acute,” “cure” versus “remission”), the powerful physical effects of placebos, and the intricate but often defeatist ways we define our physical health, Langer challenges the idea that the limits we assume and impose on ourselves are real. With only subtle shifts in our thinking, in our language, and in our expectations, she tells us, we can begin to change the ingrained behaviors that sap health, optimism, and vitality from our lives. Improved vision, younger appearance, weight loss, and increased longevity are just four of the results that Langer has demonstrated.

B I O 

Dr. Ellen Langer, Ph.D., is a social psychologist and the first female professor to gain tenure in the Psychology Department at Harvard University. She is the author of eleven books and more than two hundred research articles written for general and academic readers on mindfulness for over 35 years. Her best selling books include Mindfulness; The Power of Mindful Learning; On Becoming an Artist: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity; and Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility. Her most recent book, the Wiley Mindfulness Handbook, is an anthology on mindfulness in which leading researchers integrate work derived from her western scientific theoretical base of mindfulness with research on eastern derived forms of meditation. It will be published in early 2014.

Dr. Langer has been described as the “mother of mindfulness” and has written extensively on the illusion of control, mindful aging, stress, decision-making, and health. Among other honors, she is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and three Distinguished Scientist Awards, the World Congress Award, the NYU Alumni Achievement Award, and the Staats award for Unifying Psychology.

The citation for the APA distinguished contributions award reads, in part, “…her pioneering work revealed the profound effects of increasing mindful behavior…and offers new hope to millions whose problems were previously seen as unalterable and inevitable. Ellen Langer has demonstrated repeatedly how our limits are of our own making.”

Dr. Langer has been a guest speaker all over the world, including Japan, Malaysia, Germany, Australia, Mexico, Switzerland, Argentina and China.

She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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