4 out of 4 stars
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How My Brain Works is both a succinct explanation of the benefits of neuropsychological assessments and a guide to the ways one can maintain brain health in addition to medication or therapy. Dr.Barbara Koltuska-Haskin splits the book into two parts. The first explains what neuropsychological assessments really are. Essentially, neuropsychology combines neuroscience and psychology by taking into account the physical damage affecting the brain when deciding what steps to better someone's cognitive and emotional functioning. Dr.Koltsuka-Haskin explains what treatment a neuropsychologist might recommend in response to various situations, including chronic illness, brain trauma, or a highly stressful personal life. The second half guides the reader to how they can preserve brain health by reducing stress, learning new skills, eating well, and meditating.
One of the most striking aspects of this book is how Dr.Koltsuka-Haskin clearly has improving the quality of life of her readers in mind throughout the entire book. Whenever she explains the scientific aspects to her advice, she always explains the interpersonal effects of her advice. At the same time, she never dismisses the difficulties of the mental and physical illnesses which lead patients to seek help. For example, she explains how traumatic brain injuries can drastically alter a patient's personality and cognitive functioning. After explaining the scientific aspect of the injury, she explains how a loved one should seek help and practice patience in taking care of the injured person. She frequently ends her advice with, "it takes much patience and practice, but it can be done". Her approach to dealing with terrible brain injuries and dementia clearly comes from a place of both knowledge and compassion.
As someone who struggled greatly in my early life with depression and anxiety, I deeply appreciated how Dr.Koltsuka-Haskin emphasized that practices such as meditation and self-compassion have the capacity to affect your mental health just as deeply as medications. I greatly appreciated her understanding that medication is necessary and beneficial but is not the only option available to heal. She shows a clear understanding for how daily life affect mental illness. Something which resonated with me throughout the book was her constant reminder that agitation does not facilitate healing.
The only complaint I have about the book is that the author, while suggesting healthy eating habits, places a strange focus on losing weight and becoming slimmer. Seeing as the rest of the book is very emotionally aware, it struck me as a little irresponsible that the author did not consider the potentially dangerous effects of introducing weight loss to a book aimed at people who are likely already struggling with mental illness. However, this was a fairly small section of the book.
This book was a delight to read, both from a scientific standpoint and a personal improvement one. It stimulated my interest in biology, botany, and spirituality all in one book. I especially enjoyed how the author brings in multiple kinds of spirituality. The book is clearly professionally edited. I only found one error in the entire book. As such, I rate How My Brain Works 4 out of 4 stars. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in psychology or neuroscience, anyone looking to improve the mental balance in their life, or anyone who feels they or a loved one need help or guidance dealing with a brain issue.
How My Brain Works
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