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. Read more...
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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 subunits of our bodies make their own "decisions," and not always in our favor.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 reveling in the lives that remain to us.
- ISBN-13: 9781455535910
- ISBN-10: 1455535915
- Publisher: Twelve
- Publish Date: April 2018
- Page Count: 256
- Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.8 pounds
Loosen up and live a little
We all know what it takes to be healthy—or at least we think we do. The advice comes at us from all directions: Crush your workout! Learn to meditate! Eat vegan!
In her latest investigation, Natural Causes, the sharp-tongued Barbara Ehrenreich, whose bestselling Nickel and Dimed scrutinized the inner workings of the American economy, approaches the proclamations of the health-and-wellness culture with a wary eye. Ehrenreich examines the cellular activity in the human body in order to discover if everything we do to control our health is really worth doing.
Ehrenreich has the science chops to do a serious study—a Ph.D. in cellular immunology comes in handy when exploring the world of macrophages and neutrophils. What she finds is surprising. Our immune cells, it turns out, are not always the good guys defending the body against invaders. Sometimes, they attack or help the attackers (like cancer) spread their influence.
With a scientist’s keen eye, Ehrenreich precisely explains the intricacies of the immune system. She’s equally at home in other disciplines, too, moving seamlessly from biology and philosophy to history and poetry. Her book is richly layered with evidence, stories and quotations from all of these disciplines and sprinkled with barbed humor. Ehrenreich lets nobody off the hook, skewering Silicon Valley meditators and misogynist obstetricians with equal vigor.
It’s impossible to read this book without questioning the popular wisdom about the body and its upkeep. At the very least, you’ll be able to make better decisions about how to work out, whether to have that mammogram and when to just order the steak.