I blush to admit it, but I’ve had so much fun blogging recently that I’ve neglected updating my Goodreads account. Our local public schools were closed early today due to the threat of severe weather, so I got to take a half day off work, collect the kiddos, and spend some time getting caught up with my reviews. Although my blog has evolved beyond its original purpose of being a book blog, I still like to share my thoughts & reviews here. For the following 3 books, you can read the Goodreads synopses by clicking on the titles.
The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris
I rated this 3 of 5 stars on Goodreads.
Dr. Nadine Burke Harris gives an engaging and moving performance narrating her audiobook The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity. Early in the telling, Dr. Harris tells the story of a 43 year-old male, who is the picture of perfect physical health and fitness and who has no other apparent risk factors, having a massive, debilitating stroke then attributes that stroke to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). I thought to myself, “Yeah, right. What a bunch of BS. There’s no way she can convince me of this, and I’m not even going to bother listening.” I don’t know what kept me from ejecting the disc and popping in my new Foo Fighters cd. Maybe it was her smoky, lively voice and heartfelt delivery. Whatever it was, I’m, glad I kept listening.
Dr. Harris is clearly a passionate advocate for the healing and good mental health not just of her pediatric patients but of everyone. The Deepest Well is the story of her journey to discovery of the phenomenon of ACEs and how pervasive they are across the entire socio-economic spectrum of society. It chronicles the studies of the early pioneers in the field of its discovery, and the ongoing efforts to develop standardized diagnostic criteria and treatment protocols.
I was somewhat disappointed by what Dr. Harris chose to explain in great detail versus what she didn’t delve too deeply into. Although she spends a good deal of time explaining, with highly technical medical terms, the neurochemical processes involved in various mental health disorders caused by ACEs, she does not give a single, definitive definition of what ACEs are or a comprehensive list of different types of ACEs. She only briefly discusses current methods of treatment and possible areas of research for more effective future treatment. To be fair, though, she does take pains several times to mention that this whole field is quite young and in need of energetic young practitioners and theorists to begin more fully exploring it with the eventual aim of developing a comprehensive system of diagnosis and treatment and effectively incorporating those into our current healthcare systems.
Dr. Harris herself has clearly been an important pioneer in the field and is a passionate advocate for its development. If you’ve heard about ACEs and are intrigued and want to learn more, The Deepest Well is a good place to start. The printed book may have additional back matter that offers more information about diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing research. If that’s the case, I’d rate it 4 stars. But the audiobook lacks additional info so is more of an introduction, albeit an enlightening and engaging one, than an in-depth study.
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
I rated this 2 of 5 stars on Goodreads.
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth isn’t a bad book, but there’s not a whole lot of new information or original thought here. I enjoyed it because author Reza Aslan’s opinion about who Jesus was largely reinforces my own beliefs about the subject and because he offers references to many sources for further study. He effectively demonstrates his claim that the more Gentile-centric, Pauline-based Christianity that developed in the Roman Empire and that became the basis for modern Christianity won out over its several rival schools of thought and was a new and radically different system of belief than that conceived of and practiced by Jesus and his initial apostles, especially Peter and James.
I wouldn’t recommend this book for conservative evangelical Christians who have already made their mind up about who Jesus was. But if you are looking for an easy-to-read, well-researched account of the historical Jesus, his physical environment, and the religio-political realities of the time that shaped his beliefs, I suspect you’ll enjoy Zealot.
I rated this 3 of 5 stars on Goodreads.
The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry was fun to listen to and highly informative. Jon Ronson is a quirky narrator who admittedly suffers from his own share of neuroses, so he is the ideal reader of this book.
Ronson details some very amusing personal experiences interviewing a colorful cast of psychopathic, semi-psychopathic, and weird, deviant, but probably NOT psyhopathic real-life characters. Along the way, he offers an enjoyably educational glimpse into the psycho-industrial complex that has given rise to massive overdiagnosis of mental health disorders and the regrettably resulting flood, especially among children, of overprescription of antipsychotic drugs. He finishes up by pondering whether (and tacitly implying that) modern medicine’s overreliance on mental illness diagnoses is causing irreparable, long-term damage to individuals’ reputations and prospects for becoming productive members of society.
I highly recommend this for anyone who wants to learn more about psychopathy and the current state of mental health medical practice.
If any of you have read any of the above, what did you think?