PODCAST: An Interview With Dr. James Gordon

Dr James Gordon for blog on podcast J

James Gordon, MD, started the Center for Mind Body Medicine (CMBM) based on his interest in creating what he calls “a community of healers.” He wanted to bring together the doctors who practiced medicine in a different way than the drug-based practices for which they were trained. These doctors were helping patients heal themselves with mind-body therapies. In his interview with Samueli Institute’s President and CEO Wayne B. Jonas, MD, Dr. Gordon explains his vision for building his healing community:

“To make self-awareness, self-care, and group support central to all healthcare-the training of health professionals and the education of our children.”

 Mind Body Medicine vs. Conventional Medicine

The recognizable difference between healing through mind-body medicine and with conventional practices is the use of modern technologies and artificial remedies as opposed to plant-based medications and mind-body therapies. Not all doctors are healers, according to Gordon’s testimony of what lead him to his current role. In fact, healers are not limited to those who actually studied medicine, and self-care can sometimes be more effective in treating patients than practitioner evoked treatment.

What sets mind-body medicine apart from other practices, according to James Gordon, is establishing a name for it that speaks directly to its function within society. Mind-body medicine is meant to treat using traditional forms of healing; these are healing forms, which he considers “indigenous,” and efficient.

“By calling it mind-body medicine, we are saying that we are in line with the deepest understanding of how human beings function. And we’re also committed to those approaches and those techniques that make it possible for each person to experience that connection and have a positive effect on it.”

In the conventional world, practitioners, academics and others have compared mind-body medicine to standard methods and decided that it seemed, “soft,” but Dr. Gordon finds that the reputation of mind-body medicine doesn’t quite match the evidence from mind-body research or the patient results.

 The Challenge of Mind Body Medicine

In response to the way much of the Western world views mind-body medicine, Dr. Gordon has a wake- up call. According to the Dr. Gordon, “soft” is a poor word to describe mind-body medicine becomes “soft” does not mean effective. Instead he says it’s not the mechanisms for healing that are present in mind-body therapies but the people criticizing the treatments who need to change.

 “No matter how much research you and I and others produce, people look at them as soft. And it’s their minds that need to change.”


Samueli Institute recently launched a new website brainmindhealing.org to materialize the evidence behind integrative medicine, encourage the implementation of mind-body practices in standard care and discuss how mind-body medicine can positively impact the future of our healthcare system. Be sure to visit the site