Thursday, July 1, 2010

Anatomy of the Soul by Curt Thompson, MD - A Book Review

"Anatomy of the Soul - Surprising connections between neuroscience and spiritual practices that can transform your life" by Curt Thompson is a compelling read!  Despite what science has tried to get us to believe, neurology and spirituality are connected.  

I have long been a believer in the power of our mind, and when I saw the subtitle to this book, I was immediately intrigued.   Author Curt Thompson does a great job explaining for the average reader just how this is possible.

Most reviewers of this book have given a general overview, but something has been on my mind all my life, growing up with a family member who is an atheist.  Never for one minute understanding how that person could possibly not have any faith, not believe in God......I could not wrap my brain around that.  Or why some people can easily share their faith, willingly and openly pray with their families and friends, yet others just cannot imagine doing so?   Then along comes this book and it is explained to me, so I am thrilled to share this part of the book with you.

Dr. Thompson explains that our attachments from childhood can make all the difference.  There are 4 attachment possibilities:


1.  Secure Attachment:  Children who are blessed to become securely attached have one common theme - their emotions were validated during childhood.  They had parents who were empathetic.  As an example, let's say Sally is crying because she has scraped her knee.  An empathetic parent would come to her aid asking how she is doing rather than curtly telling her to stop crying like a baby.  These children feel understood and connected, and the universe makes sense to them.  As Thompson states, "This mindful approach to the emotional state of a child literally prepares at template at a neurological level that enables the child to grow into an awareness of a God who also cares about his or her joys, hurts, fears and mistakes."  The child ultimately is able to envision God as responsible and trustworthy and that the world is safe, despite evidence to the contrary.  God does not expect parents to be perfect, but they must be perceptive.
2.  Insecure Attachment - Avoidant:  Parents of children with this type of attachment will hands down claim to love their child deeply, but were more concerned about their child becoming a positive member of society, having morals, doing well in school and obeying rules.  These parents tend to be emotionally unavailable, imperceptive, unresponsive or rejecting of a child's emotional state.  This doesn't mean the parents are always like this or even do this on purpose, but enough so that these children learn from an early age that feelings don't matter and they gain nothing from it.  They decide emotional input from their brains is unreliable , and over time learn to ignore their own distress and rely on avoiding closeness or emotional connection.   Ignoring their emotional "right' brain functions,  they often focus strongly on the logical, linear left brain functions, and may be highly accomplished in their vocations.  But listening to them tell their story will be a little like watching paint dry, as it will be more logical than emotionally descriptive.

3.  Insecure Attachment - ambivalent/anxious:  Parental hallmarks of children with this type are mostly inconsistent and intrusive.  These parents are unable to read their children because they are usually consumed with anxiety themselves.  These children experience the lack of sensitivity and predictability and have increased levels of anxiety, uncertainty and insecurity.  They will conclude the world is an emotionally unreliable place.  Those with this attachment pattern filter God and the Bible logically with their left brain, taking in the "facts", but their right brains cannot incorporate the necessary emotional qualities involved in "taking on faith" those facts.  These children grow up to be adults who are easily overwhelmed with doubts and fears about relying on others and may at times be "flooded" with right brain processing.  This makes it difficult for them to attend to others' needs, given that their own emotional states have taken over.  

4.  Insecure Attachment - disorganized:  These children find the world to be an unsafe place, having had frightened or frightening parents, who have varying states of behavior.  Happy one minute, raging the next.  These parents may have abused their children (in various ways) or may have had significant emotional disorders, such as schizophrenia, severe bipolar disorder, or alcohol or drug abuse.  Most of these parents report they deeply love their children, but are clueless that their actions are preventing their child's mind from forming a coherent sense of the world.    These children, having lived a life of traumatic events (in their experiences), often cannot view God as a loving figure, but of someone who is displeased or raged with them.   They often do not desire to get close to God due to their discomfort with intimacy.


So.......why does our attachment pattern matter and can we do anything about it?  The answer is YES!  Author Curt Thompson explains in detail how we can heal our past and learn to have an amazing relationship with God, one that is fulfilling and loving.   As he states, the manner in which we tell our own stories will reflect the degree of our ability to let God's story fully interact with our own.

We can get to the point of having what is called "Earned Secure Attachment" and learn to live our lives fully and joyously and relate to God in an intimate way.  So if you have wondered why you can't seem to connect with God in ways you see others do or know someone who struggles, do not fret.  

We can renew our minds and experience more peace, more freedom, more happiness.  Our lives can be radically changed.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

Anatomy of the Soul, by Curt Thompson, M.D.
"Do you want to improve your relationships and experience lasting personal change? Join Curt Thompson, M.D., on an amazing journey to discover the surprising pathways for transformation hidden inside your own mind. Integrating new findings in neuroscience and attachment with Christian spirituality, Dr. Thompson reveals how it is possible to rewire your mind, altering your brain patterns and literally making you more like the person God intended you to be. Explaining discoveries about the brain in layman’s terms, he shows how you can be mentally transformed through spiritual practices, interaction with Scripture, and connections with other people. He also provides practical exercises to help you experience healing in areas where you’ve been struggling. Insightful and challenging, Anatomy of the Soul illustrates how learning about one of God’s most miraculous creations—your brain—can enrich your life, your relationships, and your impact on the world around you."


This book was provided to me for review by Tyndale House Publishers.

Have a glorious day!

I Review For The Tyndale Blog Network

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