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Natural causes : life, death and the illusion of control / Barbara Ehrenreich.

By: Ehrenreich, Barbara.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London, England : Granta, 2018Copyright date: ©2018Description: xv, 234 pages ; 23 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781783784912; 1783784911; 9781783784912; 9781783782413; 1783782412.Subject(s): Self | Mind and body -- Philosophy | Control (Psychology) -- Philosophy | Aging -- Psychological aspectsDDC classification: 155.2 Summary: A razor-sharp polemic which offers an entirely new understanding of our bodies, ourselves, and our place in the universe, Natural Causes describes how we over-prepare and worry way too much about what is inevitable. One by one, Ehrenreich topples the shibboleths that guide our attempts to live a long, healthy life - from the importance of preventive medical screenings to the concepts of wellness and mindfulness, from dietary fads to fitness culture. But Natural Causes goes deeper -- into the fundamental unreliability of our bodies and even our 'mind-bodies', to use the fashionable term. Starting with the mysterious and seldom-acknowledged tendency of our own immune cells to promote deadly cancers, Ehrenreich looks into the cellular basis of aging, and shows how little control we actually have over it. We tend to believe we have agency over our bodies, our minds, and even over the manner of our deaths. But the latest science shows that the microscopic sub-units of our bodies make their own 'decisions', and not always in our favour. We may buy expensive anti-aging products or cosmetic surgery, get preventive screenings and eat more kale, or throw ourselves into meditation and spirituality. But all these things offer only the illusion of control. How to live well, even joyously, while accepting our mortality - that is the vitally important philosophical challenge of this book. Drawing on varied sources, from personal experience and sociological trends to pop culture and current scientific literature, Natural Causes examines the ways in which we obsess over death, our bodies, and our health. Both funny and caustic, Ehrenreich then tackles the seemingly unsolvable problem of how we might better prepare ourselves for the end - while still revelling in the lives that remain to us.
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Non-Fiction Davis (Central) Library
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Non-Fiction 155.2 EHR Checked out 17/12/2019
Non-Fiction Hakeke Street Library
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

The bestselling author of� Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich explores how we are killing ourselves to live longer, not better.

Includes bibliographical references(pages 213-234).

A razor-sharp polemic which offers an entirely new understanding of our bodies, ourselves, and our place in the universe, Natural Causes describes how we over-prepare and worry way too much about what is inevitable. One by one, Ehrenreich topples the shibboleths that guide our attempts to live a long, healthy life - from the importance of preventive medical screenings to the concepts of wellness and mindfulness, from dietary fads to fitness culture. But Natural Causes goes deeper -- into the fundamental unreliability of our bodies and even our 'mind-bodies', to use the fashionable term. Starting with the mysterious and seldom-acknowledged tendency of our own immune cells to promote deadly cancers, Ehrenreich looks into the cellular basis of aging, and shows how little control we actually have over it. We tend to believe we have agency over our bodies, our minds, and even over the manner of our deaths. But the latest science shows that the microscopic sub-units of our bodies make their own 'decisions', and not always in our favour. We may buy expensive anti-aging products or cosmetic surgery, get preventive screenings and eat more kale, or throw ourselves into meditation and spirituality. But all these things offer only the illusion of control. How to live well, even joyously, while accepting our mortality - that is the vitally important philosophical challenge of this book. Drawing on varied sources, from personal experience and sociological trends to pop culture and current scientific literature, Natural Causes examines the ways in which we obsess over death, our bodies, and our health. Both funny and caustic, Ehrenreich then tackles the seemingly unsolvable problem of how we might better prepare ourselves for the end - while still revelling in the lives that remain to us.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

With her trademark take-no-prisoners prose, Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) argues that a desperation to control our fates leads us to cling to ritualized medical procedures, dietary fads, and gym exercises that generate corporate profits but do nothing to change our destiny. Ehrenreich criticizes the classist arrogance of framing sickness as a moral failing, when health largely hinges on uncontrollable vagaries of our genes and cells (not to mention poverty). The author combines two themes: the first is the fiery treatise against medicalization and the "cult of wellness," while the second is a mishmash of theories of the human body at war with itself and notions of an "animate universe." With a PhD in cellular immunology, the author's credentials in science and medicine are unimpeachable, and her ability to make the her subjects accessible is unsurpassed. In this book, she drifts into a dystopian and idiosyncratic scientism, softening the potency of the text's first half. VERDICT A welcome reminder to relax in the face of our own mortality, this is fast-paced, hard-nosed discourse. Sure to appeal to dissidents from the cult of wellness.-Michael Rodriguez, Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

Claiming to be "old enough to die," feminist scholar Ehrenreich (Living with a Wild God) takes on the task of investigating America's peculiar approach to aging, health, and wellness. She comes down hard on what she describes as "medicalized life": the unending series of doctor's visits, fads in wellness, and preventative-care screenings that can dominate the life of an aging person. Ehrenreich's core philosophy holds that aging people have the right to determine their quality of life and may choose to forgo painful and generally ineffective treatments. She presents evidence that such tests as annual physicals and Pap smears have little effect in prolonging life; investigates wellness trends, including mindfulness meditation; and questions the doctrine of a harmonious "mindbody" and its supposed natural tendency to prolong life. Contra the latter, she demonstrates persuasively that the body itself can play a role in nurturing cancer and advancing aging. Ehrenreich remains skeptical and scientifically rigorous throughout her inquiry, a combination she attributes to her time in the women's health movement and her doctorate in cellular immunology. That this knowledgable book arrives in the context of an urgent American healthcare crisis, when many people can't access or afford healthcare, may irritate some readers. Still, Ehrenreich's sharp intelligence and graceful prose make this book largely pleasurable reading. Agent: Kristine Dahl, Curtis Brown. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

Americans are obsessed with their bodies. Too thin? Too fat? Does that mole look weird? Bombarded with advertisements for bodily functions that once were rarely discussed outside the physician's office, Americans have become consumers of vast amounts of medical information that engenders a false sense of competency, turning us into fierce advocates for commandeering our bodies and controlling our destiny. But is such a thing possible? Award-winning and best-selling writer and dedicated activist Ehrenreich (Living with a Wild God, 2014) looks at both sides of this conundrum, from the lifestyle adjustments promoted by a burgeoning wellness industry to the immutable facts of biology at the cellular level that propels the human body to either combat or embrace the aging process. Ehrenreich, who holds a PhD in cellular immunology, offers a healthy dose of reformist philosophy combined with her trademark investigative journalism. In assessing our quest for a longer, healthier life, Ehrenreich provides a contemplative vision of an active, engaged health care that goes far beyond the physical restraints of the body and into the realm of metaphysical possibilities.--Haggas, Carol Copyright 2018 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

Ehrenreich (Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything, 2014, etc.) returns with research and rumination on the complexity of our human bodies and the misconceptions of our minds.The author has a doctorate in cellular immunology, and throughout the text, she employs the erudition that earned her degree, the social consciousness that has long informed her writing, and the compassion that endears her to her many fans. Ehrenreich leads us through the recent biomedical research that shows us, among other things, that our immune systems can turn on us, actually easing (rather that preventing) the spread of cancer cells. Elsewhere, she writes about the puzzles of menstruation (why do human women bleed far more than other creatures?), autoimmune diseases, and the pervasive belief that we can control our lives. "We are not," she writes, "the sole authors of our destinies or of anything else." The author also explores the social and cultural aspects of health and aging: She notes how wealthier, healthier people look upon the poorwho are more likely to smoke and eat poorlywith moral disdain. She goes after the medical establishment for what she believes are superfluous, redundant tests and procedures, and she assails the self-help industry for our currently dominant, and often unhelpful, ideas of selfhood and wellness. Ehrenreich sees the body-mind connection as incredibly complex and discusses the odd notion that cells often do what they want rather than what they're "supposed" to do. The author will certainly not endear herself to the pious among us; her discussions of the origins and evolution of religious ideas are hardly orthodox. Mostly, she urges that we recognize that death is natural, that we enjoy our lives while we can, and that we disabuse ourselves of any self-serving notions of post-mortem permanence or even influence.A powerful text that floods the mind with illuminationand with agonizing questions. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.