Category Archives: Health

Book Review: The Inkblots: Hermann Rorshach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing, by Damion Searls

The InkblotsDamion Searls’ The Inkblots: Hermann Rorshach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing is a beautiful work of narrative non-fiction about which the title makes quite clear. This is Searls’ first book of this type and it is fabulous. Well-researched and well-written, I found it both intellectually and artistically engaging.

The first half of the book is primarily biographical, through which we discover the development and true intent of Rorshach’s famous (or infamous, as some may perceive it) inkblots test. The latter half chronicles further development and use (or misuse) of the test from the Swiss doctor’s death in 1922 to present day, a fantastic journey of controversy that had me questioning, evaluating, and empathizing with both testers and test-takers throughout. The reader will eventually discover that the real take away from this book is, again, right there in the title: the power of seeing. We all perceive differently, and Rorshach, being both an artist and doctor, tapped into the possibilities of what we may discover about others and ourselves based on perceptions of just ten cards of symmetrical inkblots. One can only speculate what Rorshach could and would have further done with it had he not tragically died at such an early age.

Aesthetically, two sections of glossy pages that include photos of Rorashach, family, and artwork are welcomed and helpful additions. Kudos to Elena Giavaldi for the striking dust jacket that will surely catch both eye and hand of many potential readers.

 

I highly recommend this book, especially for those the least bit interested in art and/or psychology. It will not disappoint.

 

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Advertisements

Book Review: How to Live in Fear: Mastering the Art of Freaking Out, by Lance Hahn

How to Live in FearContrary to the witty title, How to Live in Fear: Mastering the Art of Freaking Out is not a laughable memoir or anything of the sort; it’s quite serious. Author Lance Hahn begins by telling his history through the lens of an anxiety disorder he says he’s had since the age of six. Next, Hahn offers advice on living with an anxiety disorder based on his experience. The final third of the book is dedicated to Hahn’s biblical perspectives in helping those go through life as he has. His conclusions:

1) It’s uncontrollable, but your mind is your own, so you can control it. (I’m still not sure exactly where he really stands with this.)

2) Do things to keep your mind off of the source and triggers of your anxiety. (I’m concerned about some of his stated hobbies that appear to only work on symptoms and may be fueling other vices.)

3) Take meds if necessary. (His recalling of conversations imply he has seen an family practitioner and a counselor; no mention of a psychiatrist or anyone who could potentially really help with the mind, not just the body or an ear to hear.)

4) Remember that God is good, sovereign, and will heal you; but until that healing comes, which may not be in this life, have hope, pray, study the Bible, and worship Him. (This can be applied to all who suffer.)

 

A doctor does not write this book; it’s a Christian dude who left a stressful job in insurance to be a career pastor (p. 107) who suffers and hopes to help others through the same kind of struggle. It should be read and understood as such. My observation from the stories and advice given by Hahn, for whatever it’s worth, is that a possible source of his anxiety is a fear of failing and not being in control. Subtleties in the text point to the potential of his current job fueling the problem. One such instance is his assertion of his control by assuming he is the reader’s “temporary pastor through the course of this book” (p. 111). Of course, I’m not a doctor, just a Christian dude sharing his experience.

 

The book contains 199 pages of material, in which thirty or more of filler could be easily trimmed. However, it may prove beneficial to some as is, so long as they remember this ought not be taken as medical advice and should perhaps be read with someone else for perspective.

 

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Manmade: The Essential Skincare & Grooming Reference for Every Man, by Chris Salgardo

ManmadeDo you read Vanity Fair, GQ, newspaper horoscopes and gossip columns? Do you watch shows like “The Bachelor”? Do you click on the sensationalized links with tempting pictures on the columns beside almost every “news” or gossip website out there? Do you say, “I read Playboy for the articles,” or maybe, “I go to Hooters for the hot wings”? Do you enjoy redundancy, contradiction, unsubstantiated claims, and vanity poorly disguised as humility? Do you lie to yourself a lot? Do you like Donald Trump? Yes? Then Manmade: The Essential Skincare & Grooming Reference for Every Man by Chris Salgardo, president of Kiehl’s Since 1851, is your kind of material.

This is one of the worst books I’ve ever read. When I saw the title was available for review, I picked it up thinking it might be kind of fun to a book like this in my collection. A third of the way through I was already bored out of my mind reading the same things page after page—literally the same words and advice—presented in a most unappealing and unhelpful way; however, I did manage to get through it all. This can be reduced to a brochure for product that also offers beauty advice, much as a L’OREAL commercial with about that much depth.

In the middle of this drivel, Salgardo divides men into five categories: The Modern Gentleman, The Hands-On Man, The Extreme Dude, The Rebel Artist, and The Renaissance Man. For each category there is an introductory narrative that reads like a bad conclusion to a survey taken on Facebook to determine what kind of superhero you are, an interview in which he asks a “famous” specimen (I have no clue who any of them) that is completely unhelpful and mostly unrelated to the book, and sometimes actually contradictory to the book’s mission, and finally (among other things) a picture collage of examples of these types of men, in each of which Salgardo has placed a picture of himself posing as if from 1980’s album cover—but he makes sure to remind his readers on several occasions that this is not about vanity; it’s about presenting your best self. Riiiight.

In order to properly express all my thoughts on just how horrible this text is, I would have to write more content than the text itself contains without the pictures and redundancy. However, I will offer one example. Since I am known for my beard, I thought this relevant bit from the book would be enough to dissuade its purchase:

“BEARD … Don’t confuse shave oils for beard oils. The first are used to prepare the skin for shaving, the second to keep facial hair looking great. Buy both” (53). (Okay.)

“Beard Oil: Applied before shaving—preferably in the shower, where the steamy heat can help the oils penetrate more deeply—beard oil softens facial hair, making it easier to shave off, helping prevent razor burn” (61). (Wait…What?)

“BEARD OIL OR CONDITIONER To keep facial hair from getting wiry.

SHAVING OIL, CREAM, AND RAZOR To prepare skin for a smoother, nick-free shave that foams just can’t provide” (63). (Okay, getting back on track, but the redundancy is killing me.)

Yes, Salgardo, please do not get them confused, especially not within just a few pages in a book wherein you claim to be an expert and answer all types of questions from men who stop you on the street every day because you are so famous.

His best advice is this: Look at product labels, purchase and experiment with different things to see if they do what they say they do, and stick with what works for you. Ironically, this is exactly what we already do, rendering his book completely unnecessary.

I’m not familiar with Pam Krauss Books, but it’s an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, from which I have reviewed several books. Their credibility really took a hit with this one.

It’s just…so…bad.

 

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Book Review: Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body, by Jo Marchant

CureScience journalist Jo Marchant (PhD in genetics and medical microbiology) has just released Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body, a much-needed look into the real science of how one’s mind can and does affect one’s physiology. Often disregarded as immeasurable and unscientific, the connection between the mind and body has had a hard time penetrating the skeptical walls of those wholly reliant on the modern scientific method. Marchant, however, eloquently makes a compelling case for not only its inclusion in serious scientific research but also the naivety of those who place problems in only one of two categories: mental (see a psychiatrist) and physical (see an MD), arguing that these should be bridged in order to further the scientific medical community. One need not be an academic or medical scholar to read this text—see the plethora of footnotes for that kind of information—but the information is not so dumbed down that those of that ilk will be disappointed; there’s plenty here for everyone.

The case studies found in Cure are beyond intriguing—what we’ve discovered about placebos alone may stretch the reader’s mind beyond its level of comfort. We know so little about the mind, but the more we study it the more we see just how great its influence is on the body, whether through intentional or unintentional means, consciously or subconsciously. Marchant does not believe in anything spiritual, but she does not deny the influence certain behaviors and beliefs have on the mind and, therefore, the body, which should be of interest to believers and nonbelievers alike.

I’ve found that Marchant’s approach may be equally as helpful for those who place their faith in the modern scientific method as for those who place it elsewhere. As a Christian whose faith is in God but who also sees the benefit of the Enlightenment period and birth of modern science but also sees its limitations, I found myself saying, “Well, duh,” a few times, but also, “Whoa! What?!” I have to admit, after reading through the first three chapters I was ready to write to a few people and say, “Get this book now.” The information on placebos alone (specifically in relation to Lupus) has given me a whole new hope for some people. The applications of the information found in this text are virtually limitless.

One experiment made participants aware from the start that they were taking placebos—they were all taking placebos—but it still improved their situation simply by tricking the brain. Granted, much of what we’re talking about is purely addressing symptoms, but often times relieving those can allow the real problem to surface and heal. And, of course, without proper physical treatment tricking the mind into thinking the body is okay will simply cause it to die due to ignoring the real issue—thinking your blood has enough oxygen and actually having enough are two very different things!

This isn’t a “how to” book, but it is informative and should raise awareness as Marchant intends. She writes in her conclusion, “My hope, then, is that this book might help to overcome some of the prejudice against mind-body approaches, and to raise awareness that taking account of the mind in health is actually a more scientific and evidence-based approach than relying ever more heavily on physical interventions and drugs” (254). I hope so, too.

Highly recommended.

 

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.