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Reviews

Babies and children can often be our greatest teachers in life. They remind us of our deep human connection to each other and to the world. An Integrative Approach to Treating Babies and Children, edited by John Wilks, persuades us to listen to everyone’s own “baby history.”

In other words, Wilks has us look into the history of our birth in order to have a greater understanding of its effects on our adult life. Wilks suggests in the introduction that, “One of the major themes in this book is that it is much more important for us to create the right space in ourselves and in our clinic setting to work with babies rather than what we ‘do’ to a baby” (16).

Reviews

For many it can be easy to harshly judge the person sitting on the street corner asking for change. Perhaps we might believe they are taking up too much sidewalk space or too much space in general. So, we step over them without stopping.
Psychoanalyst and poet, Merle Molofsky makes us stop before we judge. In this visceral piece of poetry, she asks important questions about psychoanalysis, life, death, sex, love and violence. Her exceptionally engrossing writing style takes us onto the streets and in the presence of her characters. As if we stand face-to-face with the burdens and torments of each person we encounter, we come to realize our own connections to it all. She delves into topics that are still relevant today including topics of greed, drug addiction, heartbreak, loneliness and feelings of hopelessness and depression.

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Family life can be difficult; the interconnectedness of family can spark conflict that is hard to avoid. Family difficulties take many forms therefore there is no easy solution or magical fix for dysfunctional families. Family members can influence each other but can only control how they, as an individual, respond to the conflict. In his self-help book Overcoming Your Difficult Family: 8 Skills for Thriving in Any Family Situation, Eric Maisel presents eight skills anyone can acquire and utilize to help themselves through difficult familial circumstances, and in turn hopefully influence the whole family unit in a positive way.

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“Writing has helped me heal. Writing has changed my life. Writing has saved my life.” These powerful first sentences of Louise DeSalvo’s Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Stories Transforms Our Lives immediately conveys the author’s strong belief in the curative power of writing. She posits that writing helps people recover from “thorny experiences” and can help heal those suffering from a variety of situations, from dislocation and violence to rape and racism (4). DeSalvo is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Hunter College and is the author of over a half dozen books, so her advice is rooted in her own personal experience using writing as an instrument of healing.

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Doctors generally begin their journey as eager medical students determined to change the world one patient at a time. With intelligence, compassion, and a desire to help others, medical students muster up enough drive to fight through medical school and residency, accepting the hours of work, sleepless nights, and giant holes left in their bank account in pursuit of what they believe to be a worthwhile, fulfilling profession both morally and economically.

However, in Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician, Sandeep Jauhar suggests that it’s difficult to maintain this view within the current medical climate because it’s dominated by the government and large corporations set out to generate income, even if it’s at patients’ expense. In this powerful and thought-provoking memoir, Jauhar utilizes case studies and anecdotes as he reveals his journey as a doctor facing what he refers to as “the midlife crisis in American medicine” and his attempts to understand why “medicine today is as fraught as it’s ever been” (15).

Reviews

Intimacy from the Inside Out (IFIO) by Toni Herbine-Blank, Donna M. Kerpelman, and Martha Sweezy is geared toward psychotherapists who are seeking an alternative method for practicing couples therapy. IFIO therapy stems from Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS), a model developed by Richard Schwartz in the 1980s as an approach to working with individuals and families, then later expanded to include couples. IFIO couple’s therapy involves a two-step process of planning for the predictable universal issues that couples face and responding skillfully to other unexpected factors. Couples entering IFIO therapy often hold the two goals of feeling safe within their relationship and reestablishing intimacy. In the initial session, the therapist meets with the couple to inquire about hopes and goals, assess their ability to accept differences in each other, and then offer a perspective on the possibilities of treatment.

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In Psychotherapy East & West, Alan Watts attempts to bridge the gap between Western psychological thought and Eastern ways of life. Originally published in 1961, his goal was to provide an updated perspective on Western versus Eastern psychological ideas and provoke thought and experimentation in the reader. The 2017 reprinting of this classic instills new life into Watts’ argument that using psychotherapy without an understanding of Eastern ideologies will fall short of helping one to reach a feeling of true liberation. He posited that the groundbreaking insights of influential psychologists such as Freud and Jung synthesized with the Eastern spiritual philosophies of Buddhism, Taoism, Vedanta, and yoga could liberate people from the internal struggles within themselves.

Reviews

Michelle Craske provides a straight forward look into the past, present and future of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Within the first few pages, she begins by giving a succinct and general overview of the theory behind CBT and its importance in successfully treating patients. CBT helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way. This therapy can be a helpful tool in treating mental health disorders, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or an eating disorder. But not everyone who benefits from CBT has a mental health condition. It can be an effective tool to help anyone learn how to better manage stressful life situations. Craske does not miss a chance to define or explain a concept. This makes it much easier to follow without a dictionary or DSM 5 in hand. Although some concepts may take a bit longer to wrap your head around, the use of examples makes the content a bit easier to swallow. In only about 200 pages the reader is placed in the role of the therapist, soon able to recognize these negative patterns and behaviors. This book is geared towards a narrow audience, ranging from those with a basic understanding of theory in the field of psychology to seasoned practitioners interested in understanding this approach.

Reviews

To better understand mental illness, psychiatrists have in the past looked at mental illness via a medical model. However, in The New Mind-Body Science of Depression, Vladimir Maletic and Charles Raison claim that we oversimplify major depression by looking at it as a discrete illness. As a result, we overlook the significance of research that doesn’t support that view. They suggest that the answers to many of our questions about major depression can be found by analyzing and integrating information we already have, but in the past ignored. They seek to map out how we came to view major depression as a discrete illness and provide evidence against that view. By doing so, they demonstrate that by sticking to misconceptions about mental illness, we are oblivious to important information that can provide some of the answers we’ve been searching for.

Reviews

In Into the Darkest Places: Early Relational Trauma and Borderline States of Mind, Jungian Marcus West re-declares early relational trauma as the root of psychological distress and analytic thinking. West ultimately works to develop an integrative approach to trauma analysis and therapy incorporating ideas from theorists like Freud and Jung who prioritize internal reactions to trauma and Ferenczi and Bowlby who emphasize real-world experiences. He suggests that our analytic approaches to trauma cannot be divorced from the experience itself or the individual and internal responses. Subsequently, using his integrative approach West offers a nuanced understanding of borderline states of mind.