Archives For Health


“Trauma and its Far-Reaching Consequences

A review of
Outsmarting Yourself:
Catching Your Past Invading the Present
and What to Do About It

by Karl Lehman, M.D.

Review by Jasmine Wilson.

Outsmarting Yourself - Karl LehmanOutsmarting Yourself:
Catching Your Past
Invading the Present
and What to Do About It

Karl Lehman, M.D.
Paperback: This JOY! Books, 2011.
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I had the privilege of meeting Karl Lehman this summer and being mentored by his wife, Charlotte. Being in the community where the two of them work on the methods Dr. Lehman describes in his book, it was apparent to me how influential his theories and practices were in the lives of those in the church community.

Dr. Lehman’s work begins with the notion of trauma, but he explains trauma is not caused just by incidents like hurricanes or military combat. Instead, trauma can be caused even by minor painful experiences. For example, one of Charlotte’s memories from her childhood was when a fifth grade boy kept saying boys are better than girls. Seems like a small thing at the time, but when an experience like that is internalized, it can cause latent trauma that an individual might not even recognize. These internalized experiences can then be “triggered” by present events: “When something in the present triggers a traumatic memory, the unresolved content from the trauma… will come forward as ‘invisible’ implicit memory that feels true and valid in the present.”

As I read Lehman’s book, I began to think back particularly on all the negative interpersonal interactions I’ve had in the past few years, and recognizing how in certain situations I had been triggered, and I was directing my anger and frustration toward a person from my past at the person I was arguing with in the present.

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Making Healthy Places:
Designing and Building for Health, Well-being, and Sustainability.

Dannenberg, Jackson and Frumkin, eds.
Paperback: Island Press, 2011.
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Reviewed by Chris Smith.

[ Read an excerpt from this book ]

Making Healthy Places is a superb collection of essays that explores how neighbors can work together in a variety of crucial ways to seek the health and well-being of their places.  Richard Jackson observes in the book’s preface that:

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A Brief Review of

Working with Aging Families:
Therapeutic Solutions for Caregivers, Spouses and  Adult Children
Kathleen Piercy.
Hardback: W.W. Norton ,2010.
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Reviewed by Jennifer Price.

As our population includes many more people over the age of 65, we are forced to address the question of how do we take care of aging people?  Our little nuclear families are not always equipped to take care of aging parents and more often other support is needed, physically, mentally and spiritually.  Our families often include step-children and step-parents in a mobile culture which add to the complexity of caring for our families.  This book provides resources for counselors and therapists in navigating the golden years in the outpatient realm.

In order to get a grasp on this challenge, one must start with understanding the family dynamics and the transitions that older people make.  This book offers help in the aging process in the earlier years of aging, as well as the later years.  It offers examples of families who sought out therapy, with challenges such as, how to communicate with a family member or spouse who has MCI (mild cognitive impairment) or lessons in communication in marriage counseling for the later years.  Piercy suggests, that addressing these challenges sometimes involves psycho-educational  seminars at a senior community center for those reluctant to see a therapist. She offers several vivid examples of therapy sessions that demonstrate how people learn to cope, problem solve, and give resources.  Her research is thorough; in coordinating the care of the elderly person’s families she provices resources for various contexts, both urban and rural.  This can ease the stress placed on families in such situations.  Many times the children of elderly parents like to reciprocate the care they once received, but with health issues it can still be taxing to the caregivers.  Piercy explores complex family situations such as elderly parents who have a developmentally disabled adult child for whom they provide  care.  Another complexity, which is happening more often, is grandparents who are taking care of grandkids whose parent is absent.

Through reading this book these problems are addressed with lots of counseling interventions and resourceful examples for families that are described in a practical manner.  WORKING WITH AGING FAMILIES is a good resource for church families as we seek to care for both our birth parents as well as our older brothers and sisters in Christ.


A Brief Review of Death and Life in America:
Biblical Healing and Biomedicine
Raymond Downing.
Paperback: Herald Press, 2008.
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Reviewed by Rev. Karen Altergott.

Is biolife an idol and biomedicine an overly powerful force in contemporary society?  What is a Christian to do when confronted by a beast of a system that seems able to name our problems, control and limit the potential solutions, and make any choice other than biomedical intervention seem foolish?  The option of considering bio-psycho-socio-spiritual healing requires somewhat more of both patient and practitioner.  Biomedicine, while not ultimately to be rejected, is quite reasonably questioned.  The independence from God that a pure mechanical and physical approach implies should be completely and clearly rejected.

Death and Life in America provides an excellent overview of healing as Jesus healed into the Kingdom of Heaven, and healing as modern physicians, including the author, have healed. Physicians heal through the advances of biomedicine in the Kingdom of this World.  While dancing on the edge of gnosticism with the division between physical and spiritual, Downing basically places biomedicine in the realm of the world.  He labels medicine as one of the principalities and powers, and since it is tied up with power over others, the market, the illusion of independence from God, it is somewhat dangerous to all.

On the other hand, the power of Jesus, Son of God, heals in another way.  The comparison of resuscitated life and resurrected life shows the difference between holding on to biolife and to entering God’s Kingdom and the new life therein. The central chapters provide a good description and analysis of healing in the New Testament record. The power of God through Jesus to name the problem humans face, to heal the body, mind, spirit, relationship, and to change the approach we have to life itself is incarnate healing, embodied healing.  If we accept that we are not autonomous from God, that medicine does not rule our decisions or our lives, then there is hope that healing – biomedical as well-  may be based on faith.  The concept of Christ carrying our pain, and of us carrying others’ suffering moves us into the realm of how are we now to live with one another in a very helpful way.  Acceptance of brokenness and suffering – and biodeath when it is time – is a major sub-theme of this book.

What then for medicine and healing?  Perhaps here is where Downing doesn’t go far enough.  With the burgeoning of alternative healing, by 2008 when this book was written, our good doctor could have taken some stance on the many ways of healing that Americans are seeking.  The next book might be notes from the resistance: what it means to combine healing as Jesus heals with a world that accesses – but does not bow down to – biomedicine.


Ultra-brief Reviews of

The Whole Youth Worker:
Advice on Professional, Personal, and Physical
Wellness from the Trenches
Jay Tucker.

Paperback: Loving Healing Press, 2009.
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Healthy Meals for Less:
Great-Tasting Simple Recipes
Under $1 a Serving
Jonni McCoy.

Paperback: Bethany House, 2009.
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Reviewed by Chris Smith.

I don’t know much about youth ministry, and I’m a little cautious about segmenting the Church up into age groups, but I was intrigued by a recent book that crossed my desk The Whole Youth Worker by Jay Tucker.  Recognizing at the outset that youth ministry can be grueling (as well as rewarding), Tucker offers advice on how youth workers can remain sane and their work, sustainable.  He even goes so far – and this was particularly striking – as to explore how the health (especially diet and exercise) of the worker is intertwined with his/her work.  If only, we all as ministers and priests of Jesus Christ would reflect upon how of our bodies affects the Kingdom work that we do.  Tucker is to be commended as well for his theological emphasis on the Church as the place where youth ministry occurs (versus parachurch ministries).  There was a fair amount of material here that didn’t sit well with me or at least made me raise my eyebrows, but Tucker’s holistic focus and ecclesiological firmness make this a good book that should be read by youth workers everywhere.

In a similar holistic vein, the recent book Healthy Meals for Less: Great-Tasting Simple Recipes for Under $1 a Serving by Jonni McCoy appeals to our pocketbooks as it makes a case for healthier diets, nixing the excuse that we cannot afford the costs of eating better.  I imagine that there are a number of similar cookbooks available (for instance, it reminds me of one of my favorites, Doris Janzen Longacre’s classic More-With-Less Cookbook), but it was particularly interesting to me that this cookbook was published by the fairly conservative publisher, Bethany House.  McCoy offers us many tasty recipes here, providing a cost-per-serving figure for each one; this serving cost will likely need to be taken – pardon the pun – with a grain of salt, but it does provide a means to compare the relative cost of recipes within the collection.



America’s fundamental problem with health care isn’t economic. It’s moral. So believes T. R. Reid, a longtime Washington Post correspondent who recently completed a yearlong study of health-care systems in wealthy nations around the globe. “If we want to fix American health care,” he writes, “we first have to answer a basic question: Should we guarantee medical treatment to everyone who needs it?”

Reid’s book should be required reading for every senator, member of Congress, religious leader and talk-show host in America. By describing how health care works in other technologically advanced societies, he allays ideology-based fears (socialism! government takeover! higher taxes!) and offers a variety of options that we could choose among if we ever get serious about reforming our disaster-bound system.

Read the full review:

The Healing of America:
A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care.

T.R. Reid.

Hardback: Penguin, 2009.
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by Gordon Hempton and John Grossmann.

One Square Inch of Silence was published at the end of March 2009 in time for the authors, Gordon Hempton and John Grossmann, to appear at the Earth Day events in New York’s Central Park on April 26th, at the end of their book-launch tour. I was only halfway through the book at that date, reading it over coffee, sitting in the sun by the river in the old Swedish university city of Uppsala during the mid-morning rush-hour of students cycling to classes. In spite of the modest traffic I could enjoy the sounds of river water running, birds singing, and trees soughing in a light breeze on a glorious spring day, in sight of a hillside of blue scillas reaching up towards the castle. It would be hard to find the equivalent relative quiet in an outdoor café in the center of London or New York, or even Cambridge, England, another ancient seat of learning, where the pavements are as congested as the roads and the traffic noise is deafening. The contrast with less densely populated Sweden was thought-provoking. One Square Inch of Silence is a thought-provoking book. It makes you listen to the world with different ears and question the inevitability of the background cacophony you take for granted.

Read the full review:

One Square Inch of Silence:
One Man’s Search for Natural Silence in a Noisy World.

Gordon Hempton and John Grossman.

Hardback: Free Press, 2009
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From Powells Review-A-Day

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a baby, or how a young child’s perceptions and introspections might differ from those of an adult? Reading Alison Gopnik’s new book, The Philosophical Baby, is probably the closest you will ever come to knowing.

Gopnik is a leading developmental psychologist, an expert on philosophy of mind and an excellent writer. What distinguishes this book from others on children’s cognition is the author’s emphasis on philosophical issues such as consciousness, identity and morality. She argues that the psychological study of children provides a rich source of insight into these issues, one that philosophers have traditionally overlooked.

Within developmental psychology, Gopnik is perhaps best known for promoting (with Henry Wellman, Andrew Meltzoff and others) the “theory theory” — the idea that children construct implicit causal models of the world (theories) using the same psychological mechanisms that scientists use to construct explicit scientific theories. In other words, children are like little scientists — or, as Gopnik prefers to put it, scientists are like big children. The focus in this book is broader. Gopnik argues that although young children’s thinking may seem illogical and their play functionless, their imagination and exploration actually reflect the operation of the same powerful causal learning mechanisms that enable our uniquely human achievements in areas such as science or art.

Read the full review:

The Philosophical Baby:
What Children’s Minds Tell Us about
Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life
Alison Gopnik.

Hardback: FSG, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]