An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer
In her latest book, Barbara Ehrenreich explores how we are killing ourselves to live longer, not better. Although we are programed to believe that we have some control over our bodies and our longevity, Ehrenreich argues otherwise. We must let go of the fantasy that order can be imposed on the chaos of our bodies, that yoga, meditation and shopping at Whole Foods can save us from cancer, disease and even dying. Although Ehrenreich is skeptical of the health and wellness movement, she is even more distrustful of western medicine – cancer checkups, mammograms, Pap smears, colonoscopies, medications and even dental X-rays. Western medicine is profit-driven and Ehrenreich plans to steer clear as she passes through the last years of her life.
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 beliefs 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.
Although this book seemingly contradicts much of Dr. H. & Co.’s foundational philosophy, we believe in gathering as much information possible before blindly accepting health trends just because they are trendy. Dr. H. believes that only through healthy skepticism can we reach fundamental truth. He scrutinizes his own practice and herbal formulas and holds them to the highest rigor and clinical trial.