Saturday, March 07, 2009

Book Review – This Is Your Brain On Joy

This is your brain on joy I am privileged to review This is Your Brain on Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin for Thomas Nelson Publishers.  In consideration of this review, I did receive a copy of the book.

Dr. Henslin is a licensed counselor who has been working with Dr. Daniel Amen and integrating brain imaging into his clinical practice.  This is Your Brain on Joy is a book for the lay person summarizing the basics of psychopathology and it’s correlation with SPECT (single photon computerized tomography) scan results.  But, he doesn’t stop there, he goes on to recommend dietary changes, exercise, supplements, and other things that a lay person can implement on their own to help mild symptoms.  At times, he gives information about medications that can be used by physicians for treatment of more serious symptoms.

This book is written for the lay person and is really quite easy to understand.  Dr. Henslin’s writing style is pleasant and entertaining.  He makes the concept of SPECT scans simple to understand (I think, although I may be biased because I already understood how they work).  The layout of the book is clear with pictures and outlines (for those of us with analytical brains).  He ends with a wrap-up chapter tying the spiritual side of mood into the rest of what he has written.

It’s hard to explain this book in a short review.  Let me give you an example.  The part of the book that really resonated with me was the chapter on the deep limbic system since that’s the area that is mostly associated with depressed mood.  The chapter starts with a discussion of depression, then moves on to what the limbic system does when it is working well and what happens when it is not working well.  He then moves on to a comparison of grief and depression and then shows some SPECT images of a brain of a person who is depressed.  Next, he discusses the role of false religion in depression and then moves on to how God sees the depressed person.  The rest of the chapter is spent discussing diet, exercise, supplements, Scripture, etc. that may help depression.

This is an excellent book that I strongly recommend to anyone who struggles with mood issues.  If you are trying to deal with mood issues without medication, this is a good place to start.  If you are using medication to deal with mood issues, this book can give you some recommendations of things to help the medications work better.  Dr. Henslin and Dr. Amen also encourage those who have unresolved emotional issues consider getting a SPECT scan done and have their treatment based on the results of the scan.  As a physician, I can’t really comment on that recommendation since I haven’t read the relevant literature, and I’m not a psychiatrist.

One of the things that I most appreciated about this book was that it is based on the assumption that Christianity is true, God is real, and Jesus is the basis of our joy.  Dr. Henslin wants to use all of the science that’s available to help people feel better, but knows that the ultimate source of our joy is Jesus.  Everything he recommends in this book is consistent with a Christian view of the world – read it and find out for yourself!

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