If you have not previously read widely on the subjects of Health and Healing, and wish to learn more about the ideas addressed on this website then this section may provide a useful starting point.
The books and papers listed below are not intended as a bibliography, but rather as a sample of books and papers to which the reader may turn further to explore some of the topics that are relevant to the principles and practice of Bloch Healing (BH). Most of the suggested texts could have been placed in more than one of the sections below.
Where I could find the full text, a partial text or a summary (or, failing that, an interesting review) on-line, I have provided a link. The free availability of these texts is evolving rapidly, and it may be possible to find a full text where I have not provided a link.
The Rational Person
The tremendous achievements of the scientific method of learning, and the desire to overcome the superstitious beliefs of past generations, have sometimes led to extremely narrow definitions of the word ‘rational’, as pertaining only to the accurate perception of material reality (the physical nature of things) and to the most appropriate manner of ascertaining this (generally, the scientific method). The narrowest of these definitions all but excludes as ‘real’ those things that cannot be seen or measured, such as thoughts, imagination, feelings and values. This risks detracting from the central place of these concepts in human experience, a sort of “throwing out of the baby with the bath water”.
Many writers of modern times, including philosophers, psychologists and artists, have examined this phenomenon, and its distorting effect upon human endeavour in general and upon Health in particular.
Two writers who examine the limiting effects of a narrow definition of ‘rational’ thinking from within the scientific paradigm are Fritjof Capra (physicist) and Iain McGilchrist (psychiatrist and neuroscientist). Capra demonstrates how many of the greatest scientific minds have valued several meanings of ‘rational thought’, much as explored in this website. McGilchrist’s scholarly (and weighty) book explores the limiting effects on science, on the individual and on society as a whole of the use of narrow definitions of rational thought.
Health and Healing
Health and Healing, much as defined on this website, have been the subject of intellectual consideration from earliest human history.
For a relatively modern perspective on these concepts, very close in principle to that of BH, I would recommend the (poetic, often difficult and sometimes obscure, but ultimately tremendously rewarding) writings of Martin Buber, most especially ‘I-Thou’.
Almost any of the (clear and evidence-based) writings of Carl Rogers may assist the reader in an understanding of this philosophy. Apart from the remarkable quantity and quality of his work, much of Rogers’ influence is due to his application of modern scientific research methods to the problems of psychotherapy, most especially to the questions of what makes psychotherapy effective, and why. In his most famous book, ‘On Becoming a Person’ (1961) he gives a clear summary of the principles of the “person-centred therapy” that he devised, and of the research into its methods and results, as well as a description of the ‘healthy person’ and the health benefits of therapy. Some believe that his best statement of the principles of Healing, and of the most important qualities of a Healer, is to be found in the last interview that he gave, in 1986.
For a modern, brief and clear introduction to the philosophy of health, I would recommend David Seedhouse, ‘Health: The foundations for achievement’.
In his influential book, Ivan Illich questions the effectiveness of modern medicine in extending human life and improving human health in all meanings of the word.
For an impassioned call to look to oneself as the only source of values, the reader could hardly do better than Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous ‘Self-Reliance’. First published in 1841 in the United States, it has influenced every generation of American thinkers since, and was chosen by Barak Obama to be included in the printed edition of his Inaugural Address in 2009.
The Use of Power in Healing
The consideration of the question of the effective and ethical use of power in human relationships has exercised philosophers from earliest times.
For an early review of principles, arguably never surpassed, the modern reader might consider starting with Lao Tzu’s classic ‘The Tao of Power’, written approximately two and a half thousand years ago.
For a consideration of the dangers of the misuse of power in the psychiatric and psychotherapeutic context, Jeffery Masson’s ‘Against Therapy’ is clear, readable, authoritative and shocking. ‘The Rape of the Mind’ by Joost Meerloo is a remarkable and beautifully written analysis of the ways in which psychological principles may be abused in order to undermine the individual, as well as democratic society.
Moments of Clarity
What I have called ‘Moments of Clarity’ has some points of similarity (without any necessary religious interpretation) to that which has sometimes been described as ‘religious experience’.
The first of the modern psychologists to analyse religious experience in human terms was William James in his classic and highly influential lectures ‘The Varieties of Religious Experience’. Abraham Maslow, one of the founders of the modern western humanistic philosophical and psychological tradition, wrote extensively on this phenomenon, which he called ‘Peak Experience’, placing it within the context of human experience, and not dependent upon the interpretation of religion. His last book, ‘The Farther Reaches of Human Nature’, contains essays on this and other subjects pertaining to Health and Healing, including the qualities generally to be found in the Healthy person.