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Skin Deep: A Mind/Body Program for Healthy Skin.

Dermatology has made remarkable strides with the advent of lasers, cyro-surgery and the wonders of vitamin A derivatives. Many skin diseases have been corrected by these procedures, but honest progressive medical treatment has not reached all. Patients with warts, psoriasis, and eczema continue to endure suffering either by ignorance or design.

Not enough emphasis is given to the past that psychology plays in the genesis of skin disorders. The vast majority of dermatoses, the authors contend, can be ameliorated by dealing with a mind/body approach. An emotional component must be recognized in dealing with what seems a physical disorder.

A person must not be divided into organic and psychic components for separate therapy, the writers warn. Certain cutaneous (skin) diseases should be objectively treated as dynamic, constantly fluctuating adaptations to the stresses and strains to which the patient is exposed both externally and internally. A skin ailment sometimes waxes and wanes, depending not only on the specific treatment but often on the patient's moods and frustrations.

The skin is an organ, the authors remind us, as physical as the heart or liver, and a rash is as physical as a heart attack; yet the skin is also an exquisitely sensitive responder to the emotions. Just as stress makes your heart beat faster and your blood pressure rise -- fear can make your skin turn pale, embarrassment can make you blush, and emotional anxieties and other stresses can trigger or aggravate skin disease.

Skin Deep is a book that does not attempt to categorize every known cutaneous affliction, although it does dwell upon the psychological link to common skin disorders. In keeping with its holistic orientation, several afflictions are examined to reveal the emotional component.

Acne, the authors recognize, requires medical treatment, but just as important, the patient should understand the need for stress reduction and relaxation techniques.

Allergy, Grosshart and Sherman observe, is not a disease but a mechanism reacting to exposure to plants, animals, or digestion of food.

Psychological problems also play a dominant role. The book cites examples that illustrate the part that psychology can play. An interesting observation: the case of a multiple personality sufferer who shows no allergic reactions under the influence of shifting from one particular personality to another. One personality is allergic to a particular allergen, the other is seemingly immune.

Skin Deep can be fascinating reading. Many of its radical concepts may yet prove to be scientifically correct.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Vegetus Publications
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1993
Words:405
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