Change Your Brain Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen, MD

This book is a New York Times bestseller.

As a registered mental health counselor intern, one of the things I do is use talk therapy to help people dealing with emotional and mental issues like depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder. , substance abuse problems, etc. Mental health counselors treat these problems with many therapies that involve changes in thinking and behavior that cannot necessarily be “seen.” What is fascinating about this book is that Dr. Amen, a clinical neuroscientist and psychiatrist, explains these problems as “brain disorders” that can actually be scientifically detected with imaging tools. His work opens a window into the metaphysical reality that is the age-old problem of the mind and brain that philosophers and scientists have wondered about for centuries. Dr. Amen writes, “I always believed that there was a strong connection between spiritual health and mental health (Amen, 4).”

I work from a spiritual, rational and physical perspective that is holistic and based on a philosophy that includes the three planes metaphysical (aspects of being) and epistemological (aspects of knowledge). We cannot discount the importance of the spiritual and the insights of the heart in which we speak and experience things like trust, faith, hope, and love. I draw my philosophical understanding from my studies of intellectual history. In particular, I draw on one of my favorite philosophers, Blaise Pascal, who gave me a good argument for a spiritual, rational, and physical perspective for my practice that includes a solid theological and scientific foundation.

Long before we could detect the smallest particles of matter in the atom, the Greek philosopher Leucippus hypothesized its existence around 450 BC. Shortly after, his follower, Democritus, coined the term ‘atom’ from the Greek ἄτομος (atoms, “indivisible”) from (a-, “not”) and τέμνω (temnō, “cut”), which means that it is not it can cut, or indivisible, something that cannot be divided further. Some of the greatest discoveries have originated from the intuitions of the heart of man, only later they are “detected” empirically and understood rationally (if not perfectly), if they are not seen and touched. Mental health has been a soft science with classified categories of symptom groups in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but without necessarily an empirical way to detect and diagnose. Many of the symptoms described in the diagnoses are based on behaviors and reports.

Dr. Amen explains here how science can empirically detect and measure activities in the mind-brain connection. This book contains a lot of information on mental health problems gleaned from Brain SPECT images, an empirical tool that Dr. Amen uses to detect ‘brain disorders’ or diagnosed mental health problems that meet DSM criteria. These are nuclear medicine studies that measure blood flow and activity levels in the brain (Amen, 5). Dr. Amen also discusses the use of PET (positron emission tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CAT (computerized axial tomography), and EEG (electroencephalograms). Seeing that many mental health problems can be empirically detected in brain function using these tools can be helpful in dispelling stigma and false guilt when there is a medical problem and a brain disorder. Without some evidence of the medical problem, people may think that it is ‘all in their head’ and that they just need to fix it, or that they are just a ‘bad person’.

What the information in this book adds to my practice is a holistic perspective that includes referring and recommending information about medications, nutrition, exercise, social interactions, behavior changes, along with the talking therapies and other treatments that I offer as a health counselor. mental health. Dr. Amen claims that he is one of the few psychiatrists who offer these types of brain scans and consultations on mental health issues. They are also quite expensive. He states that the purpose of the book is not for everyone to go out and have their brains scanned, but rather to explain a wide variety of human behaviors in terms of the images that SPECT provides and show that they can be treated with a medical model, as well as models. traditional psychological and social (Amen, 15).

Dr. Amen in no way contends that psychotherapy is not effective in treating these empirically detected “brain disorders.” His point is not that physical things can only be dealt with physically, but rather to show a fascinating explanation of thinking and behavior using brain imaging. For example, their research shows that depression is associated with hyperactivity of the limbic system (an area of ​​the brain) and that bonding can decrease this hyperactivity (Amen, 41). An example of this is that orgasm is like a mini seizure in the limbic system and decreases deep limbic activity (Amen, 41). He found that when a patient who was depressed underwent a scan before and after having passionate sex with his wife, his brain scan showed that his limbic activity had decreased significantly (Amen, 41). She then goes on to explain how casual sex doesn’t work and is so harmful to many women because they have a limbic system larger than men’s that binds more deeply, colliding more strongly when a bond is broken. He also writes that healthy bonding between mothers and children, between family members, friends, and even pets affects the limbic system in positive ways.

Dr. Amen has a comprehensive chapter on how to improve positive thinking patterns. Dr. Amen’s recipe for curing these limbic problems includes: “… precise thinking, proper handling of memories, connecting pleasant smells and moods, and building positive bonds with oneself and others” ( p. 55). It is common knowledge that research shows that cognitive behavioral therapy (a talk therapy) is very effective in treating depression, but it is effective in treating a wide range of psychological problems (Corey, 288, Beck, 2). Cognitive behavioral therapy deals with changing distorted thinking and fundamental beliefs about oneself and the world, such as that one cannot be loved or helpless. Bonding also occurs in talk therapy between a client and a therapist and can improve relationships and bonding with others.

Understanding that there may be a physical problem with the brain is therapeutic and can help us find more ways to improve our mental health. This book is an excellent read and a good reference for any specific illness or mental health problem. I also highly recommend This is Your Brain on Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin with a trailer from Dr. Amen. In addition to good information and explanation of parts of the brain (use a cartoon) and how they relate to different patterns of thinking and behavior, there are many good tips to help with specific problems, including many different treatments, what foods to eat, vitamins , aromatherapy and cinematotherapy.

Amen, Daniel G., MD (1998). Change your brain Change your life. New York: Times Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Beck, Judith S. (1995). Cognitive therapy: basic concepts and beyond. New York: Guilford Press.

Corey, Gerald. (2005). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Seventh Edition. Belmont: Thomson Brooks / Cole.

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