Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Book Notes: This is Your Brain on Joy (3/5)

Dr. Earl Henslin is a licensed professional counselor in southern California who has written a new book on how to have a healthy brain. He has adopted many of the practices of Dr. Daniel Amen (famous for his books on the brain that have developed from his brain-imaging work) and put them to work in his daily treatment of patients in his counseling practice. His basic premise is that people are complex physical and spiritual beings who have complex physical and spiritual issues based on their life experiences and their individual physiology. Through the book, he explains his own personal development as a medical profession and his growth in diagnosing multiple complex causes of his patients' struggles.

I really appreciated Dr. Henslin's book and his view of helping people, though the book became very tedious about half-way through when he began going through each individual section of the brain, looking at various scans from different patients, and describing the variations in treatments that he uses to help each kind of brain issue. The most personally helpful sections of Dr. Henslin's book affirmed what I long have suspected to be true - that a healthy diet and daily cardiovascular exercise and good sleep all contribute to good brain health and increase personal joy. I have already implemented his recommendation that everyone take a daily does of fish-oil as it increases the health of the brain.

Dr. Henslin's variation of recommendations encouraged me that there is no one way to help people who have brain issues. He discusses medications at length, but in the end only recommends them in short doses because of the long-term consequences they can have on the brain themselves. Each of the chapters that discuss the different areas of the brains and the issues connected to those area end with various ways to help the brain. He discusses diet recommendations, supplements, exercise routines, books to read, movies to watch, music to listen to. He even adds long sections of Scripture at the end of each chapter than can be memorized and meditated on - very cool.

The last two chapters show us how Dr. Henslin's Christian worldview influence his professional practice - he spends time working through Paul's prescription for eternal joy in the book of Philippians. His conclusions are not new, but they are really cool to read in the book from a medical professional on brain health. Overall, a good read that bogs down in the details, at times making it feel more like a reference book that a cover-to-cover read.

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