Drawing on her own body of colorful experiments - including the first detailed discussion of her landmark 1979 "counterclockwise" study in which elderly men lived for a week as though it was 1959 and seemed to grow younger - and important works by other researchers, Langer proves that the magic lies in being aware of the ways we mindlessly react to cultural cues.
Counterclockwise shows how we can actively challenge these ingrained behaviors by making subtle changes in our everyday lives. Langer describes ways to reorient our attitudes and language in order to achieve better health: she shows us the ways in which our belief in physical limits constrains us; and she demonstrates how our desire for certainty in medical diagnosis and treatment often prevents us from fully exploiting the power of uncertainty.
Scientifically riveting and practically empowering, Counterclockwise holds enormously exciting implications for our general health - including vision, old age, cancer, weight, and heart health - as well as for our fundamental happiness.
©2009 Ellen J. Langer; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
Dr. Langer is a skilled and talented psychologist with an excellent reputation and has made significant contributions to psychology. This makes it all the more surprising that I found the book to seem more like an informercial for 'natural cures'. Her premise that you can 'turn back the clock' and fight off the ravages of aging by practicing mindfulness. She bases this approach on a study done where a group of elderly people lived in a 1959 environment for 1 week and supposedly had physical improvements in hearing, seeing and other categories. She does not provide much detail on this study so it's hard to actually judge how much you should believe it. For instance, how many people in the study; the actual changes in these characteristics; if the improvements were permanent; if it was really the 1959 environment or would any well organized, fun retreat (eg a cruise) yield the same result? Nonetheless, this study serves as her spring board into the use of mindfulness to mediate the effects of aging. Her logic is demonstrated whe she states that if she found one monkey that said one word, she would take that as a sign that all monkeys could speak under the right conditions. It is an odd presentation and belief for someone so accomplished in her field. Her achievement in the 80's and 90's were very meaningful but that those accomplishments don't make this approach more believable. Although there may be something to her beliefs, they were not presented in a convincing manner to me. Please leave room in my criticism for the fact that I am a 'traditional' scientist who likes to see studies clearly, and unambiguosly answer a hypothesis. I hope to live a long time anyway...
This book is very similar to her other book titled Mindfulness, in that some of the same studies are in both books. This book discusses the virtues of being mindful. A topic that if practiced on a daily basis would reduce much strife in the world. If you like the author and the narrator, get the book, otherwise find an alternative author and narrator.
Expectations and beliefs are the center piece of Ellen Langer's "Counter Clockwise." In the process she gives us a clear, thorough understanding of the self-fulfilling prophecy in action. Extremely practical, Langer brings research and professional insight into many critical aspects of our lives and how our mental models influence our health, well being, and life benefits.
In this book Langer introduces the mind/body relation in a particularly intersting way. The various chapters contain redundancy and repetiion, but every few lines she provides helpful insight worth the wait. The writing is clear and easy to follow and the reading of Sandra Burr is excellent.
If you haven't been exposed to this information before, this is a must listen. If you have, it is still interesting and entertaining.
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