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Bernie S. Siegel

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Bernie Siegel
Born (1932-10-14) October 14, 1932 (age 91)
EducationColgate University, Cornell University
Occupation(s)Surgeon, author, New Age speaker
EmployerYale University
Parent(s)Simon B. Siegel and Rose Siegel

Bernie Siegel (born October 14, 1932) is an American writer and retired pediatric surgeon, who writes on the relationship between the patient and the healing process. He is known for his best-selling[1] book Love, Medicine and Miracles.

Early life and education[edit]

Siegel was born on October 14, 1932, in Brooklyn, New York.[2] He received a B.A. from Colgate University and his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College,[1] graduating with Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Omega Alpha honors.[3] He was trained in surgery at Yale–New Haven Hospital, West Haven Veteran's Hospital and the UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.



Siegel practiced general medicine and pediatric surgery until 1989, when he retired from Yale as an Assistant Clinical Professor of General and Pediatric Surgery.[3]

Medical research and advocacy[edit]

Psychosocial support therapy[edit]

Exceptional Cancer Patients (ECP) is a non-profit organization founded by Siegel[1] in 1978. As described in a 1989 article in The New York Times, patients "with cancer and such other serious illnesses as AIDS and multiple sclerosis use group and individual psychotherapy, imagery exercises and dream work to try to unravel their emotional distress, which, Siegel says, strongly contributes to their physical maladies."[4] The ECP was created to provide resources, professional training programs and interdisciplinary retreats that help people facing the challenges of cancer and other chronic illnesses. In the fall of 1999, the Mind-Body Wellness Center (owned and operated by Meadville Medical Center and MMC Health Systems, Inc., a non-profit organization) acquired and assumed operations of the ECaP.[3][5]

In 2008, Jerome Groopman, reviewing Anne Harrington's The Cure Within: A History of Mind-Body Medicine, noted that a study by David Spiegel which (Harrington wrote) appeared to support Siegel's claims that breast cancer was partly caused by emotional turmoil, and that "dramatic remissions could occur if patients simply gave up their emotional repression, without chemotherapy or radiation."[6] However, Groopman noted that later trials failed to show any significant beneficial effects.

Siegel's theories concerning the purported benefits of psychosocial support therapy remain unproven. He has stated: "a vigorous immune system can overcome cancer if it is not interfered with, and emotional growth toward greater self-acceptance and fulfillment helps keep the immune system strong",[7] but Stephen Barret argues that Siegel has published no scientific study supporting these claims.[8] A cohort study intended to measure the effects of positive mental imagery on breast cancer survival rates found no significant impact.[9] Earlier indications of strong beneficial effects in the study were found to be a statistical error due to selection bias.[10] However, a possible effect could not be ruled out, as the study had a "relative lack of statistical power", and that "the program might have other beneficial effects on the quality of life".[10]

Siegel is an Academic Director of the Experiential Health and Healing program at The Graduate Institute in Bethany, Connecticut.[11]

Literary reviews[edit]

Literary critic Anatole Broyard, writing in The New York Times, describes him as "a sort of Donald Trump of critical illness" and "not a gifted writer"; and while agreeing that Siegel is a surgeon, writes that he "might sometimes be mistaken for a pop psychiatrist." Broyard is critical of some of Siegel's practices, such as "imaging", where cancer patients imagine their good cells defeating their bad cells. Yet, Broyard concludes, Siegel does bring "an element of camaraderie" and offers patients hope, which is "a godsend to many people who are too sick to object to his style."[12]

Los Angeles Times reviewer Joan Borysenko described Siegel's first book, Love, Medicine and Miracles, as "incredibly inspiring and sure to be controversial". She commented, "Excellent research is reviewed side-by-side with uncontrolled, highly questionable studies." Describing Siegel as an "extremist" who "views cancer and nearly all diseases as psychosomatic", the review concluded that "his message distills down to one that the head may question, but in which the heart delights".[13] A second Los Angeles Times review of the same book said, "The book works best as a passionate exhortation to care for yourself, emotionally as well as physically. As a treatise on disease, it's trendy but ultimately oppressive."[14]

In 1988, Siegel's Love, Medicine and Miracles ranked #9 on The New York Times Best Seller list of hardcover nonfiction books.[15] The book remained on the Times bestseller list for more than a year.[16][17] The paperback version was on The New York Times Best Seller list from 1988 to 1994.[18] It was also included in Sheldon Zerden's The Best of Health: The 100 Best Health Books.[19] His book Peace, Love and Healing hit The New York Times Best Seller list (paperback) in 1989.[20]

Mind Body Spirit magazine ranked him #25 on their 2012 list, "The Spiritual 100".[21]

Appearances in films and television[edit]

Siegel was a "key figure" in the 1988 television movie Leap of Faith, later rendered Question of Faith in VHS, written by Bruce Hart.[22]

1n 1992, Frank Perry's autobiographical film On the Bridge shows Perry, with prostate cancer, going to a weekend seminar led by Siegel.[23]

Bernie Siegel appears in the 2012 film "The Cure Is", alongside Bruce H. Lipton, Joel Fuhrman, Fabrizio Mancini, Marianne Williamson, Gregg Braden, Sue Morter, Paul Chek.

Personal life[edit]

Siegel lived with his wife Bobbie in Connecticut until she died in her sleep in 2018. They have five adult children.[24] He has said that he reads the Bible often and uses it for inspiration.[25]



  • 1986 – Love, Medicine & Miracles – HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 978-0060914066
  • 1989 – Peace, Love & Healing – HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 978-0060917050
  • 1993 – How to Live Between Office Visits – HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 978-0060924676
  • 1999 – Prescriptions for Living – HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 978-0060929367
  • 2003 – 365 Prescriptions For the Soul – New World Library, ISBN 978-1577314257
  • 2003 – Help Me To Heal – Hay House, ISBN 978-1401900373
  • 2004 – Smudge Bunny – Children's book – Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant – New World Library/HJ Kramer, ISBN 978-1932073034
  • 2006 – Love, Magic, and Mudpies: Raising Your Kids to Feel Loved, Be Kind, and Make a Difference – Rodale Books, ISBN 159486554X
  • 2009 – Faith, Hope and Healing: Inspiring Lessons Learned from People Living with Cancer – Wiley, ISBN 978-0470289013
  • 2009 – 101 Exercises for the Soul: Simple Practices for a Healthy Body, Mind, and Spirit – New World Library, ISBN 978-1577318521
  • 2011 – A Book Of Miracles: Inspiring True Stories of Healing, Gratitude, and Love – New World Library, ISBN 978-1577319689
  • 2013 – The Art of Healing: Uncovering Your Inner Wisdom and Potential for Self-Healing – New World Library, ISBN 978-1608681853


  • 2004 – Meditations for Peace of Mind (Prescriptions for Living) (Audiobook, CD) – Hay House, ISBN 978-1401903978
  • 2006 – Love, Magic, and Mudpies: Raising Your Kids to Feel Loved, Be Kind, and Make a Difference (Audio Edition) – Gildan Media, LLC


  • 1989 – An Evening With Dr. Bernie Siegel – Upstate Media Enterprises
  • 1994 – Voices of the New Age – Hartley Film Foundation
  • 1995 – Hope and a Prayer: How Hope, Humor and Love Can Heal – Bernie Seigel M.D. – Hay House
  • 1997 – Fight for Your Life – Varied Directions/ The Hoffman Collection
  • 1996 – Bernie Siegel: How to Live Between Office Visits – Mystic Fire Video
  • 1998 – Love Medicine & Miracles – Mystic Fire Video
  • 1999 – A Conversation with Bernie Siegel – Wisdom Television
  • 2011 – What If?: the Movie – Awakening to Our Unlimited Self – James A. Sinclair documentary
  • Bernie Siegel, M.D. – Inner Vision: Visualizing Super Health – Hartley Film Foundation


  1. ^ a b c Kahn, Ada P.; Fawcett, Jan (2008). "Bernie Siegel". The Encyclopedia of Mental Health. Facts on File Library of Health and Living (3rd ed.). Infobase Publishing. p. 411. ISBN 978-0-8160-6454-0.
  2. ^ Scott, Willard (2004). The Older the Fiddle, the Better the Tune: The Joys of Reaching a Certain Age. Hyperion Books. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-7868-9039-2. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  3. ^ a b c Siegel B (2008). "Helping people live between office visits: An interview with Bernie Siegel, MD. Interview by Sheldon Lewis". Adv Mind Body Med. 23 (1): 24–7. PMID 20664138.
  4. ^ Bass, Sharon (August 6, 1989). "Connecticut Q&A: Bernie S. Siegel; 'If You Enjoy Living, You Live Longer'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  5. ^ "About Us: Background". ecap-online.org. Meadville Medical Center. Archived from the original on March 14, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  6. ^ Groopman, Jerome (January 27, 2008). "New York Times Sunday Book Review". Faith and Healing. New York Times. pp. Page 2 (of 2 web pages in review). Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  7. ^ Siegel, Bernie S. (1986). Love, Medicine & Miracles, HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 978-0-06-091406-6. p.77.
  8. ^ Stephen Barrett, M.D. (17 December 2018). "Questionable Cancer Therapies". QuackWatch.
  9. ^ "Survival of breast cancer patients receiving adjunctive psychosocial support therapy: a 10-year follow-up study". Journal of Clinical Oncology. January 1993. Archived from the original on 2012-12-20.
  10. ^ a b Morgenstern H, Gellert GA, Walter SD, Ostfeld AM, Siegel BS (1984). "The impact of a psychosocial support program on survival with breast cancer: the importance of selection bias in program evaluation". Journal of Chronic Diseases. 37 (4): 273–82. doi:10.1016/0021-9681(84)90135-8. PMID 6715493.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2012-04-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) The Graduate Institute: Faculty and Administrative Staff
  12. ^ Broyard, Anatole (April 1, 1990). "New York Times Books". Good Books Ab[o]ut Being Sick. New York Times. pp. Page 2, 3 of 5 web pages. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  13. ^ Borysenko, Joan (May 18, 1986). "Love, Medicine and Miracles by Bernie S. Siegel". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  14. ^ Oppenheim, Mike (August 31, 1986). "Nonfiction: Love, Medicine & Miracles by Bernie S. Siegel MD". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  15. ^ McDowell, Edwin (February 2, 1989). "New York Times Top-Selling Books of 1988". Books. New York Times. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  16. ^ McDowell, Edwin (July 29, 1989). "New York Times Books". Book Notes. New York Times. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  17. ^ Matsumoto, Nancy (September 5, 1994). "The Burgeoning Art of Healing With the Head : Mind/body books are big business. And it's not just New Agers who are lapping them up. Aging boomers are also opening up to the notion that attitude can cure". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-03-17. Former Yale Medical School surgeon Bernie Siegel's 1986 book, "Love, Medicine & Miracles," reappeared on the list this spring after spending more than 52 weeks on the bestseller list in the late 1980s and selling more than a million copies.
  18. ^ "Paperback Best Sellers, May 7, 1989". The New York Times. May 7, 1989. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  19. ^ Zerden, Sheldon (2004). The Best of Health: The 100 Best Health Books. Warren H. Green, Inc. pp. 401–405. ISBN 0-87527-537-0.
  20. ^ "Best Sellers, June 18, 1989". The New York Times. June 18, 1989. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  21. ^ "The Spiritual 100". The Watkins Review: Mind Body Spirit (29). February 2012.
  22. ^ O'Connor, John J. (October 6, 1988). "Review/Television; Will Power vs. Disease". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  23. ^ Maslin, Janet (October 8, 1993). "New York Times Movie Review: On the Bridge". Reviews/Film. New York Times. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  24. ^ "Dr. Bernie Siegel's Prescription for Cancer Victims (and a Best-Seller): 'Patient, Heal Thyself'". PEOPLE.com. 1987-09-21. Retrieved 2018-02-03.
  25. ^ Holeman, Daniel B. "An Interview with Bernie Siegel". Randy Peyser, Expert Book Editor, Writer, Home Page. Retrieved 2018-02-03.

Further reading[edit]

  • Brown, David Jay (2007). Mavericks of Medicine: Exploring the Future of Medicine with Andrew Weil, Jack Kevorkian, Bernie Siegel, Ray Kurzweil, and Others. Smart Publications. pp. 255–277. ISBN 978-1-890572-19-8.
  • Canfield, Jack; Hendricks, Gay; Kline, Carol (2007). You've Got to Read This Book! 55 People Tell the Story of the Book That Changed Their Life. HarperCollins. pp. 137–141. ISBN 978-0-06-089175-6.
  • Kahn, Ada P. (2006). "Bernie Siegel". The Encyclopedia of Stress and Stress-Related Diseases. Facts on File Library of Heath and Living (2nd ed.). Infobase Publishing. p. 333. ISBN 978-0-8160-5937-9.
  • Karagianis, Maria (March 4, 1984). "Doctor of Hope". New England Magazine.
  • Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth (1999). Tunnel and the Light: Essential Insights on Living and Dying. Da Capo Press. pp. 125ff. ISBN 978-1-56924-690-0.
  • Siegel, Bernie (1989). "Love, The Healer". In Carlson, Richard; Shield, Benjamin (eds.). Healers on Healing. J. P. Tarcher. pp. 5–11. ISBN 978-0-87477-494-8.
  • Siegel, Bernie (2005). "A Lost Soul". In King, Alan (ed.). Matzo Balls for Breakfast: And Other Memories of Growing Up Jewish. Simon and Schuster. pp. 10–16. ISBN 978-0-7432-6074-9.
  • York, Michael (2004). The Historical Dictionary of New Age Movements. The Scarecrow Press, Inc.

External links[edit]