Saturday, December 3, 2011

Healing is a Choice by Stephen Arterburn

Healing is a Choice by Stephen Arterburn is a lifechanging book based on biblical teaching to help the reader address and face  the tragedies in life.  The author's premise is that if painful memories and experiences are left untreated or buried in the mind, that they resurface later in the form of deprerssion chronic illness or mental illness.  This is not simply a secular self help book, but rather a spiritual book based on biblical teaching. This book is a sombering wake- up call, as the author warns that the sick mind is usually not capable of healing itself on its own without outside help.  After each chapter is a work book or study guide to allow the reader to take a guided tour through the healing process.  This author has a good insight to the purposes of pain and depression and states that depression is a sign that should not be ignored or medicated away, but rather a sign that something needs to be addressed.  This book alsoteaches personal responsability for one's actions and feelings- not excuses.

 In large part, I did agree with the book and its methods to help the reader overcome his or her pain.  The author himself experienced a difficult and a public divorce that threatened his ministry career.  He included an honest analysis of his own avoidance and dissconnection relationship issues. Nevertheless, his "faults"based on his self- accessment,  seemed  mild and at times self serving. Yet the author maintained a rigid adherence to certain ideas.   I  believe there was an undue focus on one's past.  It almost seemed as if this could perpetuate a morbid fascination with digging up the past and ruminating on past events or past hurts.  If somethong has been buried in the subconscious mind, that it is a survival technique and perhaps it ois best to leave it be then allow it to resurface.  The mind and spirit have an amazing ability to heal and forgetting or burying the past (such as traumatic and painful events) are part of the healing process and coping mechanisms.  Why go through such lengths to undue the work of the mind with an unnatural expedition into one's past?  I also believe that Christian counseling (or any counseling for that matter) isn't always available and financially prohbitive for many people who struggle financially. In an ideal world everyone would get help for their issues, but this isn't an ideal world.   Even if one has health insurance, the copays for counseling visits add up- especially ongoing visits.  If therapy continues for an indefinate amount of time, the money expense is significant.  On pages206-207 the author has a disclaimer warning the reader not to simply read the books and attemp self healing, but that outside help and counseling is essential- and that the reader may do more harm than good in attempting to help himself without the services of a professional counselor or clergy.  As a blogger for Thomas Nelson publishesr I recieved this book for the purpose of writing this review.

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