*** DEBUG END ***

Cured: The remarkable science and stories of spontaneous healing and recovery, by Jeff Rediger

17 July 2020

Nick Goulding considers a study of spontaneous healing and recovery

THE practice of Western medicine is changing. Slowly, inexorably, treatment paradigms are moving from “one size fits all” to a tailored approach: towards person-centric, holistic therapy.

Dr Jeff Rediger, a psychiatrist based at Harvard Medical School, is a herald of this change. His book Cured takes the non-expert on an absorbing journey, revealing the interaction of mind and body in health and illness through the lens of individuals who have overcome incredible odds to conquer incurable disease.

The book is written with an informality that makes complex concepts accessible without undermining scientific validity. His work is based on 17 years of research into spontaneous healing and recovery. This interest was prompted by a visit to a holistic Brazilian healing centre, which he identified as a hotspot of spontaneous healing.

Inspired by the environment and testimony of patients, he spent years trawling the medical literature and hospital case-notes for similar cases. He has documented astonishing examples of healing and remission of incurable diseases which defy medical science. His thesis is that common factors can be identified that contribute to these instances of healing.

The resulting work is inherently anecdotal. The argument is that many single-subject studies can build a meaningful pattern of cause and effect. Acknowledging that spontaneous healing is not merely completing a list of tick boxes, he found strong associations, but also confounding factors and paradoxes. What works for one person may not for another.

Dr Rediger identifies diet (nothing new there), and adopting anti-inflammatory, pro-immune lifestyles that embrace love, connectivity, and faith. For all patients, this involved conscious decision-making, action, and response at their own initiative, sometimes at odds with conventional medical advice. For most, remission or healing was a long process.

While it is a fascinating read, I would have liked to be reminded of the rarity of such phenomena. While spontaneous healing is never formulaic; he does not really address the issue of the 99.9 per cent of patients who may seek to change lifestyle and attitudes but who do not experience physical healing — and, indeed, may experience psychological trauma and guilt as a result. Ironically, by adopting holistic practices societally, the health of a population could be improved dramatically.

But this book is not about society. In line with Western individualism, it is self-centric. I fear for a future in which personalised medicine is only for the few.


The Revd Nick Goulding is Professor of Pharmacology and Medical Education at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.


Cured: The remarkable science and stories of spontaneous healing and recovery
Jeff Rediger
Penguin Life £16.99
Church Times Bookshop £15.30

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available


Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)