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In this gripping exploration of the organs of the body and the myths associated with them, Sherwin B. Nuland M.D., the author of the award winning HOW WE DIE (Vintage), once again displays his ability to combine clarity, compassion, and knowledge to shed light on the working of our bodies from a surgeon's perspective. Dr. Nuland recounts legends about the functions and 'personalities' of the stomach, liver, heart, spleen, and uterus, and, in riveting vignettes of the surgery he has performed, describes the actual surgery and explains the connections between myth and reality. He reflects on humanity's impulse to invent explanations for things we don't understand and shows we have never abandoned long-held superstitions. Eloquent and informative, THE MYSTERIES WITHIN is an extraordinary synthesis of science and folklore, medicine and myth.
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Table of Contents

ContentsINTRODUCTION1 THE STOMACH: A LITTLE BOY'S BIG SECRET2 THE STOMACH: SOUL, SPIRIT, AND CENTRALITY3 THE STOMACH: GHOSTLY GASES, MYSTICAL ACIDS4 THE LIVER: DUMB LUCK AND THE SURGEON5 THE LIVER: SOURCE OF LIFE6 THE SPLEEN: ORGAN OF MYSTERY, ORGAN OF MELANCHOLY7 THE HEART: CRACKING THE VALVE8 THE HEART: THE FIRST AND LAST DYING9 THE UTERUS: THE HYSTERICAL PASSION10 REPRODUCTION: BABIES IN BOXESEPILOGUEINDEX

About the Author

Sherwin B. Nuland M.D., F.A.C.S., is clinical professor of surgery at Yale School of Medicine, where he has taught since 1962. HOW WE DIE was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His most recent book is THE WISDOM OF THE BODY, published in paperback as HOW WE LIVE.

Reviews

Nuland, the surgeon and author of How We Die, takes readers through medical history as well as the "myths" of five major human organs: the stomach, liver, spleen, heart, and uterus. For each organ, he skillfully combines the significant players from different eras (for example, Hippocrates or Galen), the philosophical and research constructs they brought to their research on that organ or in general, and his own latter-day observations. Nuland also artfully discusses the interaction within different cultures of superstition, religion, and science for each organ. Accessible to all readers, this is highly recommended for all collections and required for medical and history of science collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/99.]--Michael D. Cramer, CIGNA Healthcare, Raleigh, NC Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"To be compelled by fascinating stories while simultaneously learning about human anatomy and the surgeon's complicated profession, you will have to read this book." Lee Gutkind, Chicago Tribune

In this gracefully written study, bestselling surgeon and Yale professor Nuland (How We Die) takes a scalpel to centuries of folk beliefs, superstitions, myths and wishful thinking that have clung to modern Western medicine through its history. The ancient Greek belief (which persisted into the early modern era) that various internal organs impart distinctive personality traits through "humors" or circulating fluids is just one of many fallacies Nuland dissects. Plato and the early Church fathers also subscribed to the notion that, at birth, each individual is already completely formed in the seed of the father. Even after Anton van Leeuwenhoek's discovery of the sperm cell in 1674, "preformationists" rushed forward to claim that they had seen tiny men within the spermatozoa. Fear of bowel stasis and self-poisoning by stool--a recurrent theme throughout history--led to a plethora of unproven remedies ranging from high-colonic irrigations to the surgical removal of lengths of colon. In a selective tour of the human body focusing on just five organs--heart, stomach, liver, spleen, uterus--Nuland shows how, as medical science has advanced, it has slowly disentangled itself from preconception and irrationalism. He says these tendencies are still with us in today's alternative healing scene (homeopathy, reflexology, herbalism, Chinese medicine, etc.), which, he claims, embraces vague notions of immeasurable energies and life forces gone awry. The book's most interesting sections are Nuland's taut re-creations of his operating-room experiences--moving dramas that take us deep inside his patients' lives as well as their bodies--as he walks a tightrope between life and death. Agent, Glen Hartley, Writer's Representatives; 5-city tour (Feb.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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