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Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic, and Worry Paperback – January 2, 2015
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―Reid Wilson, PhD, author of Don't Panic
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―Sally Winston PsyD, codirector of the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute of Maryland
―J. Bruce Overmier, PhD, professor emeritus in the graduate faculties of psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science at the University of Minnesota
About the Author
Elizabeth M. Karle, MLIS, is collection management supervisor at the Cushwa-Leighton Library at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN. In addition to supplying research for this book, she has personal experience with anxiety disorders―providing a first-hand perspective that focuses the book on what is most useful for the anxiety sufferer. Originally from Illinois, she currently resides in South Bend, IN, and holds degrees or certificates from the University of Notre Dame, Roosevelt University, and Dominican University. She is author of Hosting a Library Mystery.
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The book also provides helpful evidence-based guidance on techniques to prevent or reduce the intensity of anxiety and related conditions. The key techniques are:
- Get good sleep, aerobically exercise daily, and eat a healthy diet.
- Breathe from the diaphragm/belly, which apparently activates the parasympathetic nervous system and thus counters activation of the sympathetic nervous system resulting from fear.
- Remind yourself that thoughts and images are not reality and may be mistaken.
- Disrupt problematic thoughts and images via distractions, play, music, and positive thoughts and images.
- Mindfully 'defuse' from problematic thoughts, images, and sensations, and instead just 'be' in the present moment, calmly observing all that is happening without any need to interpret or respond in any way.
- Meditate, including mindful meditation.
- Deliberately and repeatedly expose yourself to the situations which generate unwarranted fear, in order to rewire the amygdala to no longer subconsciously associate those situations with fear. This can be an uncomfortable experience, but accept the discomfort and know that it will pass, and absolutely do not flee from the situations, because doing so will strengthen the fear.
I highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with excessive worry, fear, anxiety, and related conditions.
Top international reviews
The first warning light comes on when the authors speak of “the more effective approach is to change your thoughts and images to decrease the resulting amygdala activation.” Behind the scientific language lurks what later is to be made explicit, that the best route to dealing with anxiety is through cbt: – cognitive behavioural therapy. This method has been largely discredited by major thinkers in the field of psychotherapy. As one who underwent such ”treatment” in a variety of forms, I can testify to their claims that it a facile, simplistic technique, full of activities, some of them useful enough in themselves for mild cases of anxiety, but mainly widely deployed here in the UK because it is cheap and easy to provide. It rests on a false premise, almost an inversion of the truth; that if we alter our thought patterns then our emotional states will respond positively. That is a simplification but close to the reality, nonetheless. It is interesting that the two authors speak only of present circumstances when anxiety is deeply rooted in the past. Rather it seems to me that the more radical method of reaching to the pain behind anxiety is the only way forward. Yes, it may take longer, is not without it’s own share of pain in confronting past experiences and certainly more expensive.
The book largely side-steps the question of medication. It does little more than briefly acknowledge this form of treatment and seems to be largely opposed to it on all but a minimal scale. That argument may hold water, but it needs far more rigorous attention than it receives here. A great deal of the substance of the text is given over to describing in list form manifestations of anxiety and extraordinarily straightforward and familiar ways of coping with it.
It is a strange book in combining quite sophisticated theories of the functioning of the brain with naïve, sometimes banal, practical suggestions for dealing with complex emotional states. I can't recommend it to those seeking genuine help with this painful disorder.