Friday, January 23, 2009

This is Your Brain on Joy--Review

We've all heard the saying, "Mind over matter." But what if your mind IS the matter? What if your brain is locked in a cycle that prevents you from refocusing your mental powers to something positive?

This is Your Brain on Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin discusses the disorders that physically affect the brain and block us from achieving happiness.

He begins the book with a tour of the brain. He uses the analogy of a house to help us give a mental picture (pun intended). We enter through the "front door" into the prefrontal cortex, and continue through the "rooms" until we reach the "basement," the basal ganglia.

Pictures of real brain scans taken during SPECT imaging (single photon emission computerized tomography) show the activity, or lack of activity, in the various "rooms" of our brain "house" that correlates with disorders such as ADD, OCD, PTSD, depression, and disturbances in the temporal lobe.

For each disorder, Dr. Henslin outlines suggestions for nutritional changes, supplements, medication, exercise, music, prayers, scriptures, and even movies (what he calls cinematherapy). And to help you determine which category you fall into (or if you do at all), he includes a test called the Amen Brain System Checklist (created by Dr. Amen, Dr. Henslin's friend and mentor). I love that he gives such a wide scope of treatment and considers medication something to reserve for only serious cases, or as a last resort when other treatments fail. BTW, fish oil is a recommendation he makes for every disorder, and it is a recommendation I believe in whole-heartedly!

I will say that parts of the book read like brochures for Dr. Amen's clinic and supplements, as well as SPECT imaging in general. But, the SPECT scan is the key to diagnosis in many cases, so he must include it. (I have read books that felt like giant adverisements for the author's procedure or business, but this does not go nearly that far.)

Dr. Henslin keeps the tone light, and the reading is definitely not dry. He peppers in humor and personal experiences, as well as gobs of movie and TV references. Apparently, he takes his own advice on the cinematherapy :).

(My favorite part was his description of a young girl who was terrified of failing her drivers test...again. He helped her overcome her fear by having her imagine the driving instructor in a ridiculous outfit. It immediately brought to my mind Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban--fighting a boggart with a mental picture of your biggest fear made funny!)

Dr.Henslin closes the book with a chapter on Paul and his letters to the church Philippi. Paul states in Philippians 4:11, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Dr. Henslin gives practical advice to help us apply Paul's principles revealed in the book of Philippians.

This is Your Brain on Joy is a book for anyone who struggles with finding joy, even if it just a case of the blues here and there. While Dr. Henslin focuses on true disorders of the brain, he gives practical, everyday advice in each chapter for nutrition, exercise, prayer/scripture, and other methods of boosting our moods.

You can find more information on This is Your Brain on Joy by visiting the Thomas Nelson website:

Here's to joyful reading!


Edgy Inspirational Author said...

Great review, Kat!

Shawna K. Williams said...

What movies did he recommend?

Kat Heckenbach said...

Shawna, only you would ask that question!

Hoarders Extraordinaire said...

Kat, I just ordered this to review. I just got done with The Gift of Psalms. They have some awesome books don't they?