As the title suggests, Healing the Hardware of the Soul is a unique blend of advanced scientific technique and fundamental religious principles. Dr. Daniel Amen, a graduate of Oral Roberts University, isn't promoting a strictly Christian agenda, but he makes it repeatedly clear that one of the crucial steps in achieving mental health is prayer. Depending on your beliefs, this insistence can range from pleasing to offensive.
His work is centered around the physical aspects of the brain--in some ways, it resembles a modern form of phrenology. Using detailed imaging technology, he has established connections between specific behaviors--panic disorders, depression, ADD--and over- or underactive areas of the brain. As with most new forms of medical research, his work is both lauded and ridiculed, and only further research will determine its ultimate validity.
For people anxious to put his findings to use, there are several chapters devoted to questionnaires that can be used in place of brain scans. Exercises and suggestions follow, and stay surprisingly simple--forming personal connections, seeking appropriate medical care and medications, and creating short-term, specific goals are a few old standbys. Regardless of what methods Amen is using to arrive at the solutions, it's clear he finds plenty of value in tried-and-true solutions. --Jill Lightner
From Library Journal
Neuroscientist/psychiatrist Amen (Change Your Brain, Change Your Life) here presents a program for repairing and strengthening personal relationships, child-rearing practices, work and study routines, and "soulful connections." This system is based on the results of 14,000 SPECT (single-photon emission computerized tomography) studies of the brain, which show activity in the brain and can also be used to indicate how various mental illnesses affect brain activity. (Amen has also used these SPECT tests in the successful treatment of mental illnesses like schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety.) To solve personal problems, he recommends developing focus and improving decision making with his one-page "Miracle for the Soul Review"; to develop superior emotional and spiritual flexibility, using prayer, meditation, and diaphragmatic breathing exercises; and to help control impulsive behavior and stabilize mood swings, learning how to form strong, positive new bonds. Unfortunately, readers have to wade through a morass of personal religious interpretation of biological wonders to get to the science and how-to instruction. Considering that Amen is a graduate of the Oral Roberts University School of Medicine, his position that the brain is the titular "hardware of the soul" is not surprising. His curious blend of religious myth with cutting-edge science targets lay readers, especially 12-step zealots, as well as mental health advocates. Recommended only for public libraries. Dale Farris, Groves, TX
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