Anatomy of the Soul

Surprising Connections Between Neuroscience and Spiritual Practices That Can Transform Your Life and Relationships
Narrated by: Sean Pratt
Length: 12 hrs and 16 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (228 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Do you want to improve your relationships and experience lasting personal change? Join Curt Thompson, MD, on an amazing journey to discover the surprising pathways for transformation hidden inside your own mind.

Integrating new findings in neuroscience and attachment with Christian spirituality, Dr. Thompson reveals how it is possible to rewire your mind, altering your brain patterns and literally making you more like the person God intended you to be. Explaining discoveries about the brain in layman's terms, he shows how you can be mentally transformed through spiritual practices, interaction with scripture, and connections with other people. He also provides practical exercises to help you experience healing in areas where you've been struggling.

Insightful and challenging, Anatomy of the Soul illustrates how learning about one of God's most miraculous creations - your brain - can enrich your life, your relationships, and your impact on the world around you.

©2010 Curt Thompson (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"This is a tremendous book for the committed Christian seeker." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Anatomy of the Soul

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Neuroscience and psychology and the spiritual life

After having read The Body Keeps Score on the science and psychology of Trauma, I wanted to read something similar from an explicitly Christian perspective and Anatomy of the Soul was recommended to me. (I also picked up This is Your Brain on Joy to read later.)

Part of the message of The Body Keeps Score is that our mental, spiritual, and emotional states impact our body and vice versa. The wholeness of our physical, emotional, and spiritual states matters. As Christians, especially as a Christian that is interested in the spiritual development of others, we need to think about how we can incorporate the knowledge of the physical into the practice of spiritual direction without attempting to be a psychologist or neurologist.

Anatomy of the Soul is broadly divided into two parts. The science and background about neurology, trauma, attachment, emotions, the prefrontal cortex, etc. and the shorter spiritual implications to our understanding of sin, repentance and forgiveness, and community.

Because I have more of a background in the later, the former was more engaging. I had just read an extended book on trauma which touched on each of the parts of the first section, but as an introduction, Anatomy of the Soul explains the science well to a non-scientist. It is part of the inevitable result of combining different fields, the field you are more informed about, you are going to be more critical of the presentation. There is not anything that I thought was bad about the spiritual implication sections. Thompson is clearly a gifted counselor and has more experience in counseling. But he is writing as a scientist in a field that is mostly dominated by mystics. I think there is great value in his writing as a scientist in a field dominated by mystics, but mystics tend to write differently then scientists do.

Broadly I think there is lots that is helpful in the early sections of Anatomy of the Soul. But I also think there are some broad statements that need more nuance to avoid being harmful (or hyperbole). One of the sections is trying to point out that God can be speaking to us through our bodies and the needs of our bodies. The accumulation of stress or physical pain or other body needs or messages can be part of what God uses to communicate to us. But the problem with this as a concept is that people that are not attuned with their bodies are also often not particularly attuned to God spiritually. So paying attention to their body can be interpreted as paying attention to their body’s desires without enough attention to limits of hearing from God through out body.

For instance, listening to our body does not mean fulfilling every bodily desire. Sex is a bodily desire, but one that has appropriate designs for expression. Eating is a bodily good, but gluttony is not. Fasting can be good, but that good is contrary to the basic desire of our body for food. I also fear that part of why people don’t listen to their bodies is that they have a hard time distinguishing healthy and unhealthy desires because they do not have a full understanding of what it means to flourish within God’s design. Which is part of why the book is being written.

Most of the early broad brushes are given more nuance before the end of the book, but I am always concerned that the introduction of an idea broadly sets the tone and people will dismiss the nuance that is introduced later.

I am now about half way through Beth Moore’s When Godly People do Ungodly Things, and her discussion of sin and spiritual attack I think would benefit from some of the neuroscience that is contained here. But I also think that the science here supports a lot of the spiritual wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers and others within the historic church.

I think Christianity has a tendency to spiritualize physical issues. The message of these books is that there is a relationship between spiritual, physical and emotional issues, it is not just a one way relationship but a complex relationship that moves in multiple directions. Historic Christianity has maintained the wholeness of the individual and the physical resurrection of the body. I think the recent science is reaffirming that in ways that was not possible before now.

I do think that Christians interested in spiritual development and discipleship need to pay attention to the science, but also not become consumed by a pop understanding of the science. We need scientists to be scientists, even if they are interested in the spiritual issues and we need spiritual directors and psychologists and counselors to not attempt to be neuroscientists. All should attempt to be informed and allow the fields that are not their own to speak to the fields that are their own.

If you have not read much about neuroscience or trauma, I think this is a good introduction and I think the spiritual implications sections gives a good introduction to where counselors or pastors or spiritual directors should seek to incorporate the science.

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Definetly a must read!

Definetly a must read! And "act upon" book, which is a lot rarer to find, it leaves you with more after than just "oh what a good book" it leaves you with hope and hopefully intent for more, and by more I mean in a sense -that is still new to me as well- but a life more meaningful and more "known"

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Excellent comprehensive overview

If you could sum up Anatomy of the Soul in three words, what would they be?

This book Unites many aspects of life from faith and sirituality to neuroscience I never ever thought I would see this done...ever. And it is perfect,...could not be better.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Anatomy of the Soul?

Unification of psychology especially Dr Daniel Seigle whose books on mindfulness are well embraced by many communities. To see this incorporated in a faith based book gives me true hope for the needed synthesis between science and our spiritual life as a christian
Bravo!

What about Sean Pratt’s performance did you like?

I love Sean Pratt's work I feel like he is an old friend ,,,and was convinced to buy this book because he narrated it.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The entire book is truly noteworthy.

Any additional comments?

This is a unique book. A sign that there is hope that brain science and one's faith and spiritual life are one unity.

8 people found this helpful

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Pivotal

This book has changed the trajectory of my life. I've read it twice now & taken pages of notes. I will share it with as many people as will listen.

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Amazing And Informative

This gave me insight on how to change my paradigm. I must say I was suprised. I thought it was all science but it incorporated the scriptures and took me to another level. Brilliant! I feel like I've had a much needed session. Everything I never knew I've always wanted. I can't wait to read it again. Thankyou once again!

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Strongly recommend

Too much to say! Wish I could meet with Dr. Thompson! You will be glad you listened.

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wonderful!

The is a great book to read along with Herman and van der Kolk! Enlightening!

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Life changing

This book was revolutionary in helping me understand how trauma has harmed my brain and how I'm not doomed to a state of harm in perpetua. So much of it was familiar knowledge from years of having counseling. But the way he explained things just helped a lot of things click. Thank you Curt Thompson!

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loved it

Loved it. Really such amazing insight into what it is to be crucifying our old idols.

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Useful integration of psychology, neurobiology and spirituality in Christ

Kurt Thompson does a good job of synthesizing and integrating some information on psychology, neurobiology, and spirituality in the way of Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit. I was helped by it, and I think many will be also.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-11-17

creative and beautiful.

outstanding and creative application of neuroscience to human suffering and dilemmas. beautifully read, lovely listening.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-14-19

Fascinating and helpful

Packed with easy to comprehend explanations of the latest neuroscience, I found this book fascinating and very helpful as I seek to better ‘integrate’ my own and my client’s minds to increase mental health and relational connectedness. Will be listening on repeat for a while!