Book Review: The Intelligent Body
One of my dearest friends has struggled with chronic pain and fatigue for years. At her worst, she was sleeping roughly 20 hours a day and would still not feel refreshed. When she speaks of that time in her life, there is apparent sadness in her voice. What if there had been a resource that provided a possible way out of that vortex of darkness? Perhaps The Intelligent Body would have given her some insight into her condition and the role she played in it.
Kyle L. Davies has quite the resume and experience to support the theory in his book, The Intelligent Body: Reversing Chronic Fatigue and Pain From the Inside Out. Davies’ book outlines his theory regarding energy flow and its connection to physical ailments. He makes reference to neuroscience, biology, and psychology to describe the foundations of his theory. Using compassion and tact, Davies explains how becoming unaligned from the true self can oftentimes be a cause behind chronic fatigue and pain. Becoming symptomatic can be a sign that the body is attempting to alert the individual to an emotional or mental issue that needs to be handled.
The first half of the book is spent outlining the theory behind his method. He discusses how stress can be present even if we do not consciously feel it in our bodies or in our hearts. He also mentions the importance of emotions and being able to recognize and sit in our emotions. “Emotional feelings are inviting you to align with your true self and intuition is direct communication from your true self. This connection, or alignment, with the true self is one of the primary cornerstones in Davies’ work. He spends a chapter titled “Who am I Anyway” on self-identification, which is compounded by the following chapter on “The Expanded Self”. In this chapter, he explains that the expanded self is:
- Being beyond or “out of the mind”
- Feels & experiences
- Everything is Now. Not affected by past or future.
- Dissolves resistance to feeling
- No judgment of self or feelings
- Does not attach meaning to feelings
- Does not label feelings, just feels the sensations
Davies is careful to weave the foundation of his theory into these chapters in order to illustrate how all of the ideas work together.
The second half of this book could be considered the action portion. In it, Davies discusses how to get into alignment with the true self and stretch further into the expanded self. He discusses many topics that will be familiar to those who have experience in self-improvement or therapy: empowerment, addressing fear, setting boundaries, and recognizing and meeting your needs. There is nothing altogether showy about Davies approach to these topics. Rather, his precision, diplomacy and compassion make the topics seem relatively attainable without creating an impression that they are “easy.” His emphasis on the role of individual responsibility echoes throughout this action portion of the book. From taking responsibility for one’s own words and thoughts to taking the time to care of yourself, Davies clearly understands the role that personal responsibility plays in an empowered life.
The Intelligent Body will certainly resonate with many readers. However, having many friends who suffer from a variety of chronic illnesses, I wonder how well-received this particular book would be without a professional guiding the reader along. For patients who suffer from chronic pain, for instance, the text might come off as patronizing. While I have a chronic condition, I do not suffer daily from my illness. For patients like me, the book is much more tangible, inspiring, and relatable. However, I would feel incredibly hesitant to hand this to a friend who is suffering regularly. Perhaps therapists who work with chronically ill patients could find that the book might benefit some of their patients.
All in all, The Intelligent Body provides an interesting and different approach to dealing with the day-to-day effects of chronic illness. Further, it could be considered a reliable resource for anyone who finds that they are just floating through their life. Other texts to read in conjunction with Davies’ work would be Deepak Chopra’s The Healing Self or Bessel Van Der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score. For more work specific to coming into alignment with the true self, readers could also consider reading Wake Up! by Chris Baréz-Brown.
The Intelligent Body: Reversing Chronic Fatigue and Pain From the Inside Out
W. Norton & Company, May 2017
Hardcover, 304 Pages