• Suggestible You

  • The Curious Science of Your Brain’s Ability to Deceive, Transform, and Heal
  • By: Erik Vance
  • Narrated by: Richard Powers
  • Length: 9 hrs and 39 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (925 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This riveting narrative explores the world of placebos, hypnosis, false memories, and neurology to reveal the groundbreaking science of our suggestible minds.

Could the secrets to personal health lie within our own brains? Journalist Erik Vance explores the surprising ways our expectations and beliefs influence our bodily responses to pain, disease, and everyday events. 

Drawing on centuries of research and interviews with leading experts in the field, Vance takes us on a fascinating adventure from Harvard's research labs to a witch doctor's office in Catemaco, Mexico, to an alternative medicine school near Beijing (often called "China's Hogwarts"). Vance's firsthand dispatches will change the way you think - and feel. 

Continuing the success of National Geographic's brain books and rounding out our pop science category, this book shows how expectations, beliefs, and self-deception can actively change our bodies and minds. Vance builds a case for our "internal pharmacy" - the very real chemical reactions our brains produce when we think we are experiencing pain or healing, actual or perceived. 

Supporting this idea is centuries of placebo research in a range of forms, from sugar pills to shock waves; studies of alternative medicine techniques heralded and condemned in different parts of the world (think crystals and chakras); and, most recently, major advances in brain mapping technology. 

Thanks to this technology, we're learning how we might leverage our suggestibility (or lack thereof) for personalized medicine, and Vance brings us to the front lines of such study. 

©2016 Erik Vance (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Suggestible You

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Is The Power Within Us? Well, Maybe...

Vance starts this book with the story of how he was cured of a deadly disease through his Christian Scientist background. A story of faith. And that's what flows through "Suggestible You". It's a story of placebos, curses/hexes, hypnosis, suggestibility, and even false memories.
The placebo effect gets the vast majority of airtime, but the anecdotes are compelling. I just listened to an NPR episode of a writer who helped come up with a Write Better, Quicker placebo and who wound up, hilariously, abusing it, so this was all fairly fascinating.
Most of the book is history and stories, but the latter two hours or so are how we can harness them in our daily lives. We can get through food cravings because the placebo effect has the effect of raising dopamine levels, just like food. We can run faster, have better sex, live with less pain, and we can even question our bad memories of trauma, our lousy childhoods.
Paul Michael Garcia does a decent enough job, but I dinged him a star because what humor is in the book is kinda sorta just lost. I mean, how can you make the comparison of having pain tolerance and listening to a Justin Bieber album unfunny? Uhm, Garcia can...
A decent enough book, just be prepared for a lengthy, lengthy discussion of placebos and how, basically, we're responsible for ourselves and our states of health.
Fascinating in its discussion of how Parkinson's disease can be helped, fascinating on how memories can be clouded, but it's a bit like a two-by-four over the head.
Still, who likes side-effects when there's the chance we can live without them?
It's all a matter of expectations and suggestibility. I suggest the listen, but I also suggest it as a sale item rather than a full credit. Unless you're looking for relief that's in your hands...

101 people found this helpful

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Overstates it's central premise but interesting

Overall it contains a lot of fascinating topics and covers relevant research in an engaging way. The issues crop up around the central concept of the book; the effectiveness of placebos. It basically oversells the idea and doesn't do more than a brief mention of alternative explanations, essentially amounting to a hand wave of information counter to the idea of powerful placebos.

Narration is fine for the most part, it just reads a little slow so for the first time ever I found myself ramping it up to 1.3 speed. That might be related to me not fully engaging in the material and being a little skeptical of its content.

50 people found this helpful

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  • MC
  • 11-26-16

Very interesting book, I have recommended to several others

It is rare that I write a review but this book deserves a good review.
Has changed the way I view many things like faith healers, supplements, hypnotism and placebos.

Great journey into the human mind and how memory meets expectation, suggestion and placebo.

Couldn't stop listening to it. I also see where a great many people who struggle with some of the problems listed as being very susceptible to placebo like addiction, depression, IBS, or even Parkinson's may really appreciate learning the truth about the drugs they are being given.

Highly recommend.

Also, there is a great appendix that is a hypnotic induction to reduce pain during dental work! I'm going to cue it up next time I'm in the chair!

41 people found this helpful

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Associations and Expectations

If you frequently question certainty along with the nature of being and why we do the things we do, this book is for you. "Suggestible You" presents so much of this in a cool and easy format, with the author often presenting a sense of humor mixed intellect. He covers a wide range of beliefs and expectations, the biochemistry of placebos and nocebos, along with strange experiences to even the unexplainable; the sciences are still quite incapable (it's a growing dilemma) of proving just what the heck is going on within our brains and the power of belief, radical or not.
It's a delightful insight into the associations and expectations that drive us and make us who we are.
Highly recommended.

25 people found this helpful

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Scientific information, but not usable

It gives scientific information on Plecebo, black magic, superstitious beliefs. I personally don't know how to use the information.

22 people found this helpful

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Very interesting and well written

This book made me realise what a difference a good science writer makes when it comes to making scientific material entertaining and accessible. Fascinating book.

10 people found this helpful

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I didn't know I was so gullible.

If you could sum up Suggestible You in three words, what would they be?

fascinating, entertaining, educational

Who was your favorite character and why?

Luana Colloca and her enthusiasm for placebo response and pain.

Have you listened to any of Paul Michael Garcia’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Haven't before but think he did a good job on this book.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was fascinated.

8 people found this helpful

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I suggest that you read, listen to this book.

A very interesting, enlightening and enjoyable read that it founded in fact and well documented.

7 people found this helpful

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Life Changing

Fascinating and empowering... you will be entertained while discovering some of the hidden superpowers of your mind.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Not.

the author talks too much about his views on religion. I couldn't get past the first five or ten minutes. Absolutely not for me.

6 people found this helpful

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  • S. Campbell
  • 12-21-16

Makes you question everything you have ever felt!

This book reveals the complex nature of how we humans interpret the world and how easily we bend our interpretation of reality to our expectations. It leaves you questioning all the things that you feel and things you do to make your self better. Questioning all your memories and their veracity. I think you will come out the otherside a more critical and analytical person who at the same time is more open minded to the mystical. I very much reccomended it.

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  • Growthfan21
  • 10-15-18

Incredibly long winded

If you are already aware of the placebo effect, do not buy this title. It gives numerous examples of this effect in action and is incredibly repetitive and long-winded. The story could have been told in 30 minutes. I didn't learn anything. I kept listening hoping I would but I learnt absolutely nothing. I do have a scientific background so this may have made it all the more painful.

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  • simon
  • 03-23-22

Good fun

Lots of common sense, with some good science and facts thrown in. Found it be very interesting.

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  • Chris
  • 10-28-19

Enlightening!!!

Scientific minded people will love this book. Explains how our brain can be fooled and fool us into believing -or even recreate reality according to our expectation. Placebos, nocibos, hypnotic suggestions, expectations etc, this book examines how everything works. I found this audio book pleasant and informative.

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  • Ingrid
  • 01-19-19

Great

This book is so special because of Erik spiritual background. I am interested in the subject and this book confirmed what I already kind of knew. But I needed some more proof and Eric provided it. It changed how I deal with sickness. I hope Eric won't stop in his research and will write more amazing books.

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  • Justine
  • 01-04-19

Took me by surprise

I thought this book had the potential to be interesting, I like this kind of subject, I started listening to the first chapter and thought I had made a horrible mistake as the author described his alternative upbringing. I persevered despite all my personal biases and by about the third chapter was completely hooked. Really interesting scientific insight into some complex and mysterious human behaviors. Loved it.

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  • Chrystelle B.
  • 12-04-18

Fascinating book about placebo

The book focuses on how the mind can influence the body. It blends stories and fact, making it very interesting and informative. The Audible version is amazing. Looking forward to another book by the same author.

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  • Mr. J. A. Ball
  • 08-29-18

You can trick yourself better

I found this book very accessible and truly enlightening as to where we generally are in the research and application of using and understanding placebo and nocebo effects on health. I am not a health professional but I do work in personal & professional development and have a great interest in the power of and understanding of the mind & brain. I've always known we have a great power to deceive ourselves but never realised so fully that this power can be used so beneficially. I had no understanding of different levels of susceptibility to placebo being able to affect medical treatments until reading this book. Fascinating.

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  • Mr. R. D. Cox
  • 08-25-18

Highly Convincing

touches on heuristics, but essentially about why placebos work, hypnosis and faith healing.

on the back of this, I'm going to try hypnosis

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  • Viktória Urbán
  • 07-08-18

Thought provoking content

This book really opens up for a lot of debate and touches on some great topics. I would recommend it to everyone who like to broaden their perspectives.

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