3 out of 4 stars
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A Journey to the Healing Place is authored by Michael Hilliard Patterson. The first half is more like a memoir. He writes about the segregation experienced by Blacks during his childhood. This was around the same time that Martin Luther King, Jr. was trying to conscientize people in the country about this problem. Michael was disillusioned by racial hatred that was contradictory to religious teachings about love and longed for unity among people.
The writer suffered from poor self-esteem, along with feelings of emptiness within himself. He was taught to hide his emotions. The tragic event of his pet dog being run over had a very deep impact on his psyche. He developed a great fear of death and resisted maturing emotionally. As time passed, Michael withdrew himself from the reality around him, and his perception of the world was distorted. He had difficulties with coping and desired spiritual connections that would bring him inner peace. Unfortunately, he had an experience with drugs that seemed to fulfill his need for euphoria. They gave him a false sense of protection and emotional numbness to escape his pain.
It was painful to read how Michael got addicted to drugs and was involved in criminal activities that increased his feelings of loneliness and despair. Later, I was happy to know that he acknowledged his need for help and took treatment. The writer had a profound spiritual experience during a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous that transformed him. He also liked the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous and began depending on God. He realized that he was not the only one going through it.
Strangely, the author seems to look at addiction through the lenses of his own experiences. Of course, we can see a few patterns in many of them, e.g., addiction may compel individuals to indulge in negative behaviors to help them procure the drug. However, we cannot generalize that all addicts experience a longing for spiritual connections. As a theologian and counselor, I was displeased with the writer’s statement that psychological theories are inadequate to understand addiction. I did not like his blanket statement that experts are misinformed and misunderstand the problem.
I appreciate Michael’s courage to share that drug addicts feel like misfits needing a sense of belonging. Addicts need to introspect and understand themselves to initiate the process of healing before others can help them. I agree that motivation should come from within the individual; however, the writer’s approach does not seem to be holistic. He is very subjective and denies the significance of other causative factors. He lays too much stress upon the spiritual issues at the heart of the problem. This is a narrow and one-sided approach.
When I was reading the second half of the book, I felt annoyed by the writer’s didactic tone. Michael writes about God and his spiritual awakening. He frequently mentions the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. Michael also writes how he found the healing place. Overall, his theology is sound. However, I don’t think this part of the text has any direct relation to drug addiction. It is like a very lengthy sermon, drifting away from the purpose of the book. It is comprehensive of his lived spirituality. It is good and praiseworthy, but it may or may not help drug addicts.
After considering what is mentioned above, I wanted to rate this book 2.5 stars. However, since this is not possible, I rate it 3 out of 4 stars. I did not give a higher rating because I found the author’s assertions very subjective. The draft copy has 82 pages with tight word spacing that is difficult to read. I hope the published version is more reader-friendly. There are several grammatical errors, and it will benefit from a round of professional editing. A Journey to the Healing Place may appeal to youngsters who experience a spiritual emptiness that makes them vulnerable to drugs. I recommend it to counselors, addicts, teachers, pastors, and social workers.
a journey to the healing place
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