On Learning to Heal: Or, What Medicine Doesn’t Know by Ed Cohen Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

In author Ed Cohen’s “On Learning to Heal: Or, What Medicine Doesn’t Know”, the author highlights the struggles of his life and the ways in which we can look past medicine itself as the only means in which to find healing in one’s life. 


The Synopsis

At thirteen, Ed Cohen was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease—a chronic, incurable condition that nearly killed him in his early twenties. At his diagnosis, his doctors told him that the best he could hope for would be periods of remission. Unfortunately, doctors never mentioned healing as a possibility. In On Learning to Heal, Cohen draws on fifty years of living with Crohn’s to consider how Western medicine’s turn from an “art of healing” toward a “science of medicine” deeply affects both medical practitioners and their patients. He demonstrates that although medicine can now offer many seemingly miraculous therapies, medicine is not and has never been the only way to enhance healing. Exploring his own path to healing, he argues that learning to heal requires us to desire and value healing as a vital possibility. With this book, Cohen advocates reviving healing’s role for all those whose lives are touched by illness.

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The Review

This was truly a thought-provoking read. The author does a spectacular job of finding just the right balance between his own personal experiences with Crohn’s Disease and living through the AIDS epidemic as a young gay man in the 80s with the more clinical applications of bridging the gap between the art of healing and the practice of medicine. The way the author approaches the topic from both Western and Eastern methodologies and practices was refreshing to see, as the work done in this book helps to find common ground and showcase the importance of healing itself in the world of modern medicine in a natural and engaging way.

The vast wealth of knowledge with the emotional core of the author’s own backstory and history and the moral, philosophical, and of course medical themes that the book engages with made this a compelling read. The intellectual and spiritual connections readers make to the author’s story and the insight they gained as a result of both their own personal work and the necessity their ailments brought was relatable, as I myself struggle with several autoimmune disorders and know the hardships that follow when modern medicine fails to combat the pain and struggles that follow. 

The Verdict

Memorable, thoughtful, and enlightening, author Ed Cohen’s “On Learning to Heal: Or, What Medicine Doesn’t Know” is a must-read nonfiction book on health, gender studies, and the study of physical ailments and diseases. The captivating personal stories the author shares and the depth of emotions that they bring up in the reader ebb and flow so smoothly with the dynamic information the author shares in regard to healing itself, making this one fantastic book to read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Ed Cohen is Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Rutgers University and author of A Body Worth Defending, also published by Duke University Press. He hosts a therapeutic practice for people interested in healing: healingcounsel.com


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