Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Television Reviews : 'Norman Cousins'

November 13, 1987|BILL STEIGERWALD

Norman Cousins is probably best known today as that spirited smart guy who laughed himself back to health with old Groucho Marx movies after being bedridden with a mysterious degenerative disease in 1964.

Yet, as a flattering half-hour profile on KCET-TV's "California Stories" reminds us (at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on Channel 28), before his best-selling "Anatomy of an Illness" made him an overnight health guru, Cousins had already racked up many impressive accomplishments.

Before coming to the UCLA School of Medicine in 1978 to head a task force to scientifically explore his ideas about emotions' effects on healing, he edited the Saturday Review of Literature for 35 years and served as an emissary for three Presidents. In the early 1960s, he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

"Norman Cousins: A Profile" brushes lightly over Cousins' earlier career, focusing mostly on his medical work at UCLA and on a trip he made to Hiroshima, Japan, where he was honored for giving 40 years of humanitarian and financial help to its people.

In addition to his thoughts on world peace (he is hopeful that mankind won't obliterate itself), Cousins explains why he gets so angry at doctors who issue verdicts of doom to patients, instead of challenges. And he talks about how laughter is a metaphor for a whole range of positive emotions--love, hope, faith, will to live, festivity, purpose, determination, and the like--that many people may be able to tap to help heal themselves.

A drippy musical score and several hokey re-enactments of episodes from Cousins' life are irritating. But the Roger Bingham written and produced documentary delivers a warm portrait of an idealistic, humanitarian, peace-loving, feisty champion of the individual who is living testimony to the power of the human spirit.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|