``As far back as I can remember,'' author-editor Norman Cousins has said, ``I've been interested in print.'' After attending Teachers College, Columbia University, the New Jersey-born Mr. Cousins worked as a journalist for several years before joining the faltering Saturday Review in 1940 as executive editor.
Over the next 36 years he built it into a widely respected weekly with nearly a half-million circulation. Campaigning tirelessly for such humanitarian causes as world government, disarmament, and peace, he wrote editorials from airplane seats around the world, acted as unofficial ambassador for President John F. Kennedy in negotiating the nuclear test ban treaty, and found time to write hundreds of essays and more than a dozen books. When the Saturday Review folded in 1982, Cousins wrote sadly that ``people are losing the art of reasonable discourse.''
Struck with a paralyzing disease in the mid-'60s, Cousins healed himself largely through what he called ``the salutary emotions'' - later writing a book, ``Anatomy of an Illness,'' about his healing. Now, as an adjunct professor in the School of Medicine at University of California in Los Angeles, he gives his attention to what he calls ``the medical humanities.''
``You have to mobilize the human being's resources - spiritual, physical, biological - in order to get a good [healing] result,'' he says. ``You just can't go to people mechanistically,'' he adds, noting that ``the fear of disease is one of the greatest intensifying factors in that disease - and so if we don't meet that fear we're impairing the treatment.''