Tuesday, March 10, 2009
This is your brain on joy
I requested a copy of This is Your Brain on Joy from Thomas Nelson partly because I love the cover design and partly because I’m interested in all aspects of psychology. This is Your Brain on Joy, by Dr Earl Henslin, offers a great deal of advice on dealing with mood disorders and the underlying neurological causes.
The first interesting thing about this book is that it’s not a Christians-only read. There’s an emphasis on spirituality and the last chapter deals with the Paul’s letter to the Philippians in-depth. But the book is filled with references to secular media and people, including a quote from the agnostic orator Robert Ingersoll, and the author even recommends that people watch movies like Titanic to lift their spirits. That was refreshing. I’d rather jump off the Titanic than watch the film again, but it’s the thought that counts.
The book also mentions a fascinating follow-up to an experiment where rats were given access to addictive drugs. Ignoring food and rest, they proceeded to dope themselves up until they died. However, in the follow-up research, an experimenter provided them with drugs but also gave them access to toys, mazes and other rats. The addiction rates were nowhere near as high that time, a result which has some interesting implications for humans as well.
The third thing I like is the healthy attitude towards altered states of mind and emotion, whether these are grief, depression or ADD. Rather than claiming that these are due to demons or that Christians don’t grieve (both of which I’ve heard before), Dr Henslin makes it clear that everyone faces these kinds of problems.
However, I wasn’t comfortable with the book’s emphasis on SPECT (3D brain scans) and drugs/herbal supplements. If the author didn’t financially benefit from either of these, I’d be less skeptical. There’s nothing wrong with taking fish-oil supplements, but this book recommends far too many types of medication, and in one case they correct a man’s lifelong anger problem in 48 hours. It’s a bit too good to be true.
So I’d take that aspect of the book with another great chemical supplement – a grain of salt. But other than that, it’s worth reading.