I first heard about Elyn Saks in a news story. Then after googling her I found a TED talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6CILJA110Y
As a psychiatry resident I have been trying to improve my empathy and reduce any countertransference so that I might connect more with those patients I care for. I loved this book, as it has helped me immeasurably towards those goals. I loved how real she was in this book about her life, about some of her most personal and controversial details. I really think this book gives me hope to spread to my patients with schizophrenia. This book also talks in a persuasive way against the use of restraints. In my generation, they are no longer used to the extent she detailed in her experience. I believe that her work as a lawyer and academic has possibly changed that standard. This book also made me realize that connection, seeking to understand, even with someone in the midst of psychosis or between psychotic events is a pivotal part of the healing process. I appreciate her critique on psychiatry and will be recommending this book to medical students, residents and attendings I interact with!
Alister McGrath paints a picture of the life of C. S. Lewis that ignites my curiosity and allows me to appreciate the writings of Lewis even more! I found that I was making excuses to do things that allowed me to finish this book over the last three days. I have loved Lewis's writings for years, but have never known the back story which makes me think I will have to re-read Lewis and once again enjoy the expansion of my logic, desire, curiosity, and imagination. McGrath, a well known theologian and academic, looks in depth at all available C. S. Lewis books, journals, letters and what others who knew Lewis wrote and comes away with his own cohesive understanding of Lewis and his writings. He also frequently makes note of the historical context and things that were going on in England which shaped the course of Lewis' life. Lewis' complicated relationship with his father (in which he at times deceived him), his conversion from Atheism to Christianity, his unexpected falling in love with a dying woman who seems to have orchestrated meeting Lewis and their subsequent common law marriage are documented with clarity and precision. Also each book that Lewis wrote is placed in the context of Lewis' journey through life. I think Lewis is able to articulate so clearly the human experience because he was: so honest with himself, a genius, and came to faith later in life. Just like someone who learns how to do something innately hard for them, later in life, will likely be a better teacher, Lewis learns about humility in the context of being a grown up self-focused man. In the context of his adult life, he learns to merge the critical analytical life which governs what he believes, with the inner workings of his powerful imagination which through the conquest of his desire culminates in finding the True Myth which all myths point at, namely Jesus Christ.
Although the title of this book is the science of evil, I believe it speaks more to the science of empathy. Empathy is conveyed as a bell shaped phenomena that we experience everyone around us, and he goes into details on those in the lowest levels of empathy. Some critical thoughts I had where that I have found in clinical experience people with Borderline Personality Disorder do not have zero empathy as he states, but perhaps a misguided empathy. I have found that many people with BPD do go on to become therapists or psychiatrist by the very nature that they are capable of feeling what others experience more vividly then normal people. However this is perhaps something that only occurs through good therapy or religious experience as those with BPD heal. I do however believe that those with BPD who are in an episode, often do to perceived abandonment, of stripping of the social veneer that holds them together, do in fact have zero empathy for a short time. The other thing I would have appreciated more was how the author thinks such evil as defined by lack of empathy can be overcome. Overall I found the book very helpful in a way of understanding empathy and it has sparked my interest in reading more on the topic. I do highly recommend this listening to this book!
I will not seek to give away things that would make listening to this less suspenseful, but rather focus on reasons for listening to this book. Susannah Cahalan tells the very personal and insightful story of her flight into psychosis. Her authorship allows the reader to contemplate what it might be like to become mad, and I believe increase ones compassion for those who also suffer from mental illness. Her investigation into the aftermath also details the emotions that her family felt- something that rounds out her story and at times brought tears to my eyes. The love extended around her I believe brought her through the journey with the ability to write this narrative. The stigma of being mentally ill is overcome by her writing a very detailed account of her journey, which I salute her for! The book also reflects upon the physiological basis of psychosis. Critically, I think that she still stigmatizes the mental hospital although rightly it was not the place that would have been most healing for her. I found her episode similar to what many manic patients I have known experience, as afterwards their episode is shrouded in partial memory which she overcomes by video that was taken and accounts of her loved ones. Her story should challenge doctors to continue investigating when a combination of symptoms don't make complete sense. Her story should allow one more empathy when we encounter those who are suffering with such a mind bending illness.
I first heard of Nassir Ghaemi from a lecture on ADHD and Bipolar and then found several friends who recommended this book. It journeys into the lives of key leaders who changed the world, and tells the story which at the time the world was not yet open to hear. With public stigma and misunderstanding, if Kennedy was known to have mental issues and take drugs would the world so widely have accepted him? What about Abraham Lincoln? Why was Hitler so cruel (could drugs have made him worse?)? As a psychiatry resident I work with hundreds of patients who look for hope, meaning in the midst of their mental illness. This book can decrease your stigma of mental illness and also open up your mind to the possibility of mental illness being a positive thing in some situations.
The depth of thought and ideas are mind expanding in this book. After listening to it two times I got the book because I needed to slow down and think through the ideas more slowly. As someone who does therapy I find the ideas she protrays very helpful. This is a book that charts a very different course then Freudian or more contemperary psychologist from the behavioral/cognitive perspective. Its contents are more based on the dynamic interplay between what you really are and what you or others wish you were in your mind. It will give some framework but not help you know how to help others other then being able to more fully understand and chart where they are coming from.
The book goes through some of the thoughts behind Ron Paul's views and provides the intellectual background and rhetoric for his long thought out views on how to change the world. More then a book that will close your doors of ideas, it is one that will make you more curious. I went into this book having some serious questions about Ron Paul, as often he throws out things like "gold standard" which confused me and seemed regressive. However he skillfully presents a common sense argument against Keynesian economics, which is the prevailing viewpoint which leads the government to go into further debt during recessions by spending money on more projects. He agrees with the "Austrian school" which states that creating a thriving economy comes from less restrictions, less government stimulus (for example what economic benefit is it for the government to create jobs which don't make anything that helps create meaningful products), less government price setting and more individual desire driving the economic engine. He also argues for liberty of personal freedom from the government, and the laws enacted in the fear culture of post 911 which continue to give the government far too much power. His foreign policies also make more sense, and try to empower freedom not only in our citizens but also in other countries... with the idea that free trade rather then war and torture creates bonds of peace. He shows strong historical support for how stopping trade with a country works to create hostility, which often leads to war. He also argues that intervening in other countries often has unforeseen consequences. I am going to listen to this book again in a week to further digest and contemplate all of his life changing ideas...
Timothy Keller with experience, eminence, and evidence presents a dynamic and beautiful portrayal of marriage which not only is realistic but also the hope it provides. He spends time looking into common cultural conceptions of marriage or cohabitation and contrasts them with the Christian view of marriage. He reflects on the cultural, historical and contextual scriptures on marriage and blends them with his life long experience in counseling couples in various stages of marriage. After listening to this book I bought it for my groomsmen and bride to be as I felt it would help us better contemplate marriage together.
This book is very well written and will provide the framework for the fascinating science of exercise. It is both honest and very scientific. I have recommended it to multiple people already!
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