Food and Behaviour Research

Donate Log In

The Instinct to Heal: Curing Depression, Anxiety and Stress without Drugs and without Talk Therapy

Author: David Servan-Schreiber

Web URL: Buy this book from

Instinct to Heal


David Servan-Schreiber is a distinguished psychiatrist and research scientist both in his native France and in the USA, where he co-founded the Center for Complementary Medicine at the University of Pittsburg Medical Centre.

This book represents a remarkable synthesis of what he has learned from his professional and personal experience, and it clearly displays his extraordinary combination of intelligence, wisdom, insight and real compassion. With an open mind, Dr Servan-Schreiber has sought out and critically appraised the scientific evidence for a number of new therapies for depression, anxiety and stress-related conditions. He has also made his findings accessible by relating them to the cases of real people he has worked with in a variety of settings. This is a book that anyone with an interest in mental health and well-being should read.


"Why is The Instinct to Heal such a success anywhere it has been published? Because people are eager to find new ways to deal with the wear and tear of coping with a stressful social environment; and because this book, written by a traditionally-trained psychiatrist who dares to think untraditionally, offers an alternative that may work, and by doing so, offers hope."
- Antonio Damasio, M.W. Van Allen Professor and Head of Neurology, University of Iowa, and author of Looking for Spinosa, 'Feeling of What Happens, and Descartes' Error

"Alternative medicine is attractive to many people. But how should one evaluate what to believe? David Servan-Schreiber has done that for us. The Instinct to Heal is a fascinating account of unorthodox approaches to treating the emotional brain and mind. Servan-Schreiber, himself a first-rate scientist, only discusses approaches that he feels have been studied sufficiently by rigorous scientific methods to make him a believer. I learned a lot.
- Joseph LeDoux, Henry and Lucy Moses Professor of Science at NYU and author of The Emotional Brain and Synaptic Self

"There is no one I know who possesses David Servan-Schreiber's remarkable blend of intelligence, scientific curiosity and knowledge, creativity, and - perhaps most importantly and most impressively - personal warmth. This book, the translaton of research findings into meaningful clinical insights and practice, bears the unmistakable signature of Dr Servan-Schreiber's unique abilities and voice, which echo with humor, wisdom and compassion"
- Jonathan D. Cohen, M.D., PhD, Professor of Psychology and Director, Centre for the Study of Mind, brain and Behaviour, Princeton University

"David Servan-Schreiber has done a brilliant job of bringing together insights and information of vital importance for well-being. The Instinct to Heal is itself an instrument of healing."
- Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

"Servan-Schreiber's stunning book takes a leap beyond conventional psychiatry and integrates contemporary neuroscience research with a deep understanding of the emotional brain's innate tendency to heal. He shows how one can 'reprogram' the emotional brain so that it adapts to the present, instead of continuing to be stuck in one's painful past. In this book, he shows that for healing to occur, one needs to not exclusively depend on traditonal methods of language and understanding, but directly influence the emotional brain by acting on bodily experience".
- Bessel van der Kolk, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine

"Already a runaway success in Europe, David Servan-Schreiber's The Instinct to Heal transcends controversies about the roles of the mind and the body in a masterful melding of current medical and physiological research with the personal journey of the author as he develops as a healing physician. Dr Servan-Schreiber is sending an important message to those talking therapists who appear to rely on the rational brain and language as the sole route to our emotions."
- Judith S. Schachter, M.D., Former President, American Psychoanalytic Association.