|This Is Your Brain On Joy
A Revolutionary Program for Balancing Mood, Restoring Brain Health, and Nurturing Spiritual Growth
Author: Dr. Earl Henslin
Hard Cover, 242 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
This is the review for section 2 of the book. Section 1’s review is available here.
Honestly, after section 1, I was not enjoying the prospect of continuing into this section. But the persistence paid off. Section 2 is a great read, informative, often interesting and compelling, and will leave you thinking; especially if you have an individual in your life who deals with AD(H)D, depression, anxiety, fear or anger.
Whereas Section 1 was primarily aimed at familiarizing us with the author, and with his intentions for the book, Section 2 is information and a lot of it. The content ranges from anecdotal elements that help the reader grasp what the doctor is sharing to laundry lists of medicines, supplements and scripture that can assist in the plethora of conditions that may affect a brain. Dr. Henslin has done a good job in making medical descriptions transparent to non-technical readers. The lists of supplements and medicines was daunting to me, but then again, I never get a headache and seldom take as much as aspirin. Just way out of my league. Even with the information on supplements and midicines, the emphasis is always on nutrition, exercise and other sensory therapies, like aroma, movies, music and books. The list of books for further reading is extensive, so if one particular brain center strikes you as worth digging into it, there is much to continue study or ruminate over.
Consistent in these five chapters is an interest in helping people understand the need for compassion in the midst of the different ailments being described. The stress is often first on correcting what ails physically before what ails psychologically. SPECT imaging plays a role still, but usually feels more like a diagnostic tool than a plug. Each chapter covers one particular area of the brain and conditions springing from over- and under-activity:
- Chapter 6 – Prefrontal Cortex
- Chapter 7 – Cingulate Gyrus
- Chapter 8 – Basal Ganglia
- Chapter 9 – Deep Limbic System
- Chapter 10 – Temporal Lobes
Chapter 6 focuses on conditions that affect our ability to focus, control impulses and emotions, and make reasoned decisions. ADD and ADHD are dealt with in depth. Chapter 7 follows covering the area of the brain that controls our ability to switch tasks, or the lack of this ability, which can cause bad circumstances to send us into a downward spiral, a “gerbil wheel” that our minds can’t get off of. Compulsions, obsessions and the OCD spectrum are covered to illuminate what this area of the brain can do. Chapter 8 covers that area of the brain that leads us to great fears and anxiety. This chapter deals with quite a bit, but is short and feels a little less cohesive in relation to the rest of the chapters.
In chapter 9 DR. Henslin addresses the limbic system, which relates to our ability to recover from traumatic events. Problems in the limbic system are associated with many types of depression, though the unique presentation is often related to the activity in the other regions. Beyond dealing with strictly clinical depression, he spends time on situational depression and post-partum depression. This particular area gets a lot of attention in relation to its impact on our Christian life. So many pastors and teachers have criticized those in their care for lack of faith when they were struggling with faulty hardware. The call is for compassion, not wishful thinking or denial. A Christian should not have to feel guilty of turning their back on God because of the bad mood possible after the birth of a child, the loss of job or security or the death of a loved one. The aim is to fix the hardware so that the person can worship with joy again.
Finally, chapter 10 covers the brain and its handling of anger and the dangers of all kinds of abuse. The doctor provides grounds for compassion for those dealing with these issues, while being firm and supportive of those who are on the receiving end of an individual who struggles to control anger. Our culture struggles to put all this in perspective, so it is a timely chapter, though short and not as detailed as the previous chapter.
I am looking forward to what Dr. Henslin has to offer in the final section of this book. Now, on to section 3!