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Book Review: Dr. Earl Henslin's This is Your Brain on Joy

Why did I choose to read and review Dr. Earl Henslin's This is your Brain on Joy? I'm pretty sure it was because, at the time, the book review blogger program for Thomas Nelson Publishers didn't have anything else I wanted. However, I'm all about taking on a challenge in a book.

I was initially overwhelmed with Dr. Henslin's This is Your Brain on Joy. Why? Because the finer points of neuroscience weren't a part of freshman Life Science in college. However, I began to see that Dr. Henslin took the time to explain the majority of the terminology. So, that eased my mind.

I found the premise that 'there are no normal brains' good, although it led me to wonder if this author would then go on to say we all need brain scans, medications, and therapy. I still wonder if he thinks it would be a good idea. After reading his book, I think it would be a good idea. What Dr. Henslin shows in this book is that brain scan analysis has shown that, first of all, many 'mental' or 'emotional' problems are very real. They are the result of things in your brain that are not running quite perfectly. He then goes on to give some simple suggestions of ways to assist your brain in balancing out. He points out that certain foods and food groups can help stabilize some parts of the brain. He is not afraid to mention what types of medications might be indicated as well. And he finishes with an emphasis on Scripture, a Biblical guide to finding joy and contentment. His Biblical work is acceptable, even though I would prefer him to cite a translation rather than a paraphrase in his verses. However, he's a doctor, I'm a preacher. He'd probably dislike some of my semi-medical paraphrases.

I found 2 things in this book I feel are weaknesses. First, and I don't have a solution for him on this, I doubt my personal physician will read this book. Since my doctor probably won't read it, and I live in a small town where doctor pickin's are slim, the medical advice in the book that requires a doctor's involvement is probably not going to do me much good. Possibly if I went to my doc, pointed out what I had read, got him to look at it, he'd consider it. But I don't know that my doctor will disregard his own opinions and training for someone else's opinions. Maybe doctors are more open-minded than that, but I haven't really encountered one. (besides, they're the experts. If I knew what was wrong with me, why did I go pay him $200?)

The other weakness I think could be easily remedied. In each section on the parts of the brain, Dr. Henslin lists possible psychological/emotional/mental issues that could result from that area's function. He also lists foods and food groups that can help your body and brain try and balance itself out. I'd like to see a symptom listed appendix, organized by the issues, that then lists what brain area it could be, followed by the natural suggestions. It would be a handy reference. (for example, rather than having to dig back into the chapter on the cingulate gyrus to remember that moderate carbs help that balance out, to remember to go eat some peanut butter toast when I'm dwelling on repetitive negative thoughts, I think I'd like to look in the appendix, see the issue of repetitive thoughts, and see the food suggestion[and page numbers for the chapters.])

All in all, a good reference for gaining some understanding, but not a book to read while distractions abound. It took some focused effort to get through it.

Doug

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