Although a few years old now, this text provides a fascinating introduction to the use of healing imagery throught-out history, and gives insight into the (then) current scientific research into how some of these practices and techniques are processed in the body.
Starting with shamanic techniques of altering consciousness for healing; through Asclepian dream therapy in Greece; the use of the imagination in the Middle Ages; then on to the 'dark ages' of this type of healing, which has been from the Renaissance until fairly recently - and finally offering new uses and new/old hybrid research ideas.
This book contains some seriously fascinating and essential information on health. I can remember this being one of the first non-fiction books I actually enjoyed reading. The book is worth buying/borrowing for its discussion on placebo and nocebo alone - and the case studies that go with it.
The research into the context of healing, illness and imagination across cultures has some very interesting implications; some of which can be adopted quite easily and beneficially by lay-people who have enough creativity and pro-activity. I'll leave you with a tantalizing quote:
"Further evidence for the role of the imagination in disease comes from studies showing that those that cannot comprehend the messages conveyed by society and its medicine die of different causes than those who can." Imagery in Healing, Jeanne Achterberg, page 79.