Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This is Your Brain on Joy: A Revolutionary Program for Balancing Mood, Restoring Brain Health, and Nurturing Spiritual Growth

by Dr. Earl Henslin, foreword by Dr. Daniel G. Amen
Thomas Nelson, 2008

Licensed counselor, Dr. Earl Henslin, discusses the five mood centers of the brain in a way that is accessible to the layperson, using humour, stories, and language that most people will grasp. Attaching himself to Dr. Daniel Amen to learn more about the brain and how SPECT imaging pinpoints hotspots, Dr. Henslin's counseling practice was transformed in a way that knowledge of psychotherapy models had not been able to accomplish. As Dr. Amen points out, psychiatry is the only medical specialty that never looks at the organ it treats. Doesn't it make sense to look at the brain when a person has a brain/mind problem?

Dr. Henslin gives us good news: there is no normal brain and we are not stuck with the one we were born with. The brain is plastic and responds well to treatment. Early in the book he provides readers with the "Amen Brain System Checklist," a diagnostic screening tool that helps identify potential brain disorders. Later chapters cover problems in the prefrontal cortex (Presidential control center), cingulate gyrus (Circular gerbil wheel), Deep Limbic System (Depressed low-mood space), basal ganglia (Basement of giant fears), and temporal lobe (Temper lofts). ADD/ADHD, OCD, depression, fear and anxiety, and anger are just some of the topics addressed. Dr. Henslin spells out a variety of treatment options, including supplements and medications, mood-balanced diets, music and cinematherapy, exercise, and the practice of spiritual disciplines. He advises patients to work with their doctors to devise the best treatment plan for their particular situations.

My favourite parts of the book are those where Dr. Henslin shares success stories and identifies resources (websites, movies, music, etc.) that will help the person in need. It is also fascinating to see before and after examples of actual SPECT images.

While at times the science was somewhat over my head in spite of Dr. Henslin's efforts to keep things simple, I still found myself nodding in agreement as I read and experienced my own a-ha moments. With the aid of SPECT imaging people can get the real help that they need and get on the road to joyful living more quickly. If you suffer from a mood disorder (or someone you care about does) this book is a "must read" for both hope and solutions.

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