Controlling Toxic Thoughts

30 June 2009 at 1:56 am Leave a comment

While browsing the new books section of the Haverhill Public Library the other day, I found Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions by Dr. Caroline Leaf.   This looks to be a self-published book meant to promote the self-help workshops of its author.  The book includes occasional references to scripture as well as a dedication “To Jesus Christ:  My Lord and Savior, my source of inspiration and strength” and reference to “two important groups of emotions” she calls “positive faith-based emotions” and “negative fear-based emotions” (19).  She further explains that “Faith and fear are not just emotions, but spiritual forces with chemical and electrical representation in the body” (19, my emphasis).  This blend of psychologism and spiritualism makes it a kind of hybrid source, in my mind, questionable and potentially problematic.  The subtitle caught my attention, though, and made me think of the concept of psychoenergonomics which I’ve been developing in this blog.

The book therefore is another example of this emergent meme that suggests we can channel the energy in our brains.   The challenge, in my mind, is to find the scientific basis of and explanation for this kind of control, rather than relying on spiritual explanations and guidelines.  Leaf references the work of Dr. Candace Pert, author of Molecules of Emotion and “father” of the legitimate mind-body approach to health that this book frames in a spiritual context.  It seems that the book straddles the divide between a religious/spiritual paradigm and the scientific paradigm it invokes to legitimate its claims.

As our world drifts further away from simplistic religious belief, human beings will need strategies for managing fear, strategies previously provided by common and pervasive mutual spiritual practices.  With the increased awareness of brain functioning that neuroscience provides, hopefully such strategies will become readily apparent.  Some are already being confirmed, as I have reported in other posts on the power of meditation in overcoming fear.  These will probably end up being as common-sensical as some of Leaf’s suggestions for how to detox our brain:  exercise, eat properly, meditate/relax, etc.

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Entry filed under: books, psychoenergonomics, psychology. Tags: , , , , .

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