The Biggest Mistake Patients Make

Photo: Sarah Reid

The biggest mistake patients make isn’t what you think. It isn’t turning down tests or treatments their doctors recommend. Nor is it deciding not to take the medicines their doctors prescribe. It isn’t insisting on getting a test or beginning a treatment their doctors recommend against, either, and it isn’t failing […]

The Secret To Achieving Anything You Want

Photo: Nickolai Kashirin

Evolution may have been wise in programming us all to avoid pain (given the survival advantage it clearly provides), but one important “unintended” consequence of that programming is that we tend to view pain in general—psychological and physical both—as experiences to be avoided at all costs. This shunning of all pain, […]

How To Remember Things, Redux

Photo: quapan

I once came up with a metaphor I thought perfectly captured the sheer mass of material my classmates and I were expected to memorize in our first two years of medical school: it was like being asked to enter a grocery store and memorize the names of every product in the store, […]

An Alternative to Willpower for Losing Weight

Photo: flossyflotsam

A common belief, even among doctors, is that almost no one succeeds in losing weight in the long term. And for almost two decades, I’ve counted myself among the skeptics, being able to tally on the fingers of one hand the number of my patients who’ve managed to do it—literally less than […]

Your Neighbor Is An Alcoholic, Redux

Photo: peteSwede

My patient smiled a toothless grin and told me, “I feel fine, doc.” But he was far from it. His liver enzymes had risen into the thousands, his skin was a pasty yellow I didn’t need the benefit of sunlight to see, and his albumin (a protein whose level indicates the liver’s […]

Cigarette Smoking Is Caused By A Delusion, Redux

Photo: P.13

I leaned back in my chair and breathed a heavy sigh. My patient, Mr. Rodriguez (not his real name), noticed my discomfort. “I know I should quit,” he told me with a guilty shrug of his shoulders.

“Have you ever tried?” I asked.

“Once,” he replied, “but it didn’t stick.”

Mr. Rodriguez […]

How To Raise Your Good Cholesterol

Photo: VinothChandar

Most people know it’s important to get their bad cholesterol (LDL) down to reduce their risk of heart attacks and strokes. Fewer people know that it’s also important to raise their good cholesterol (HDL) for the same reasons. Almost no one knows, however, that a low HDL likely puts them at a […]

Win An Autographed Copy Of The Undefeated Mind

Photo: skippyjon


This post is going to be a little different from my usual fare and quite brief. My book The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self is set to hit bookstores on November 6th, and today I’m announcing […]

The Human Body From Head To Toe

Photo: adrigu

One of the reasons I was drawn to medicine is that I’ve always been fascinated by the workings of the human body on all its levels. Truly, nothing in nature stands as its equal—flaws and all (and there are a few). So I thought today I’d share just a few of the […]

The Five Questions Patients Should Ask Their Doctors

Photo: hang_in_there

I once had a patient in whom I found a small breast lump. She was only thirty-two, and the lump was soft, non-tender, and mobile. But it was new. She examined her breasts monthly and was certain that she hadn’t felt it the month before. And she had a family history of […]