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Posted December 10, 2012
December 21, 2010
Patrick D. Goonan "see profile for URL" (Livermore, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Curing Chronic Fibromyalgia Choosing What Works (Paperback)
I have a unique background both personally and professionally. I started my career as a research scientist and later became committed to working in the field of psychology. In my capacity as a personal growth coach, I have worked with people with chronic illnesses, organizations committed to helping individuals with these diseases and I have suffered from serious illness myself (more than once). In my case, the illness was different, but the sense of helplessness, being alone and frustration with where we are in terms of understanding and dealing with these types of complex multi-system disorders is common ground that I share.
It was certainly a pleasure to review this well-researched, intimate and extremely thorough exploration of options available for those suffering from this devastating disease. The fact that it also chronicles one person's road to recovery is a significant added value. The vulnerability with which the author shares her experiences helps to establish credibility and an atmosphere of compassion and hope. This is capped off by a keen intellect and ability to understand, explain and hold multiple perspectives.
It is from this psychological space that I have reviewed this book. My first observation is that many debilitating illnesses tend to defy a simple reduction to one or a few causes and even deep analysis via the scientific method. I don't think it's a secret to anyone that it is very difficult to predict outcomes in multi-variable systems and you only need to tune into the weather or world politics to see numerous examples of our failure to see important connections and emergent qualities within chaotic systems e.g. the brain and nervous system. On the other hand, science is acknowledging this slowly, but perhaps not quickly enough to help many people in need. Chaos and Systems Theories would be examples of manifestations of this significant forward movement. It also appears in such mainstream best-sellers such as the The Love Response: Your Prescription to Turn Off Fear, Anger, and Anxiety to Achieve Vibrant Health and Transform Your Life, The HeartMath Solution: The Institute of HeartMath's Revolutionary Program for Engaging the Power of the Heart's Intelligence or Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World's Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples. In the must read category, I would also include The Healing Brain: Breakthrough Discoveries About How the Brain Keeps Us Healthy and Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, Third Edition and The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being.
So, what is an individual person suffering from a serious illness to do? You could place yourself totally into the hands of the medical profession. Certainly, their efforts and achievements have resulted in a life expectancy that people would not have imagined even 100 years ago. However, clearly they don't have all the answers. As I see it, a holistic systems approach is needed that leverages the best that medicine has to offer as well as the extensive experiential information available from individuals who have traveled this road themselves, the various wisdom traditions informed by common sense and better attunement to the body itself. Sometimes, we are too "in our heads" to take the time to do this, but "physician heal thyself," certainly is a quote that seems to ring true and merit considerable attention.
We are fortunate to live during a period where there is a cross fertilization of knowledge, ideas and cultural wisdom. Valerie Lumley has done her homework and provided those suffering from Chronic Fibromyalgia the pluses and minuses of various alternative approaches as well as an in-depth inquiry into her own journey overcoming this disease. I have met her in person and she is healthy, vibrant, youthful and certainly passionate about life. In sense, this book is a also a meta-study or collection of the best of the best information available across disciplines.
I can write much more about the book, but I think the author unconsciously gave her own best testimony when in a recent discussion she nonchalantly said, "I know this illness from the inside out like no other author on the subject. FMS is a very dark tunnel and its victims get lost in despair. I want to stand at the end of this tunnel with bells and whistles and shine a light bright enough for all to see and show them how to guide themselves back to life again. This is my mission." My sense of her was that she embodies this mission and her book bears testimony to this commitment. It is the best book I know of on this subject and she packs a lot of useful material into less than 300 pages. It is my sincere desire that it provides hope for those who are feeling lost in the middle of a desert without a good road map.
After finishing Valerie's book, I would also consider reading 8 Weeks to Optimum Health: A Proven Program for Taking Full Advantage of Your Body's Natural Healing Power, Integral Life Practice: A 21st-Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening and Integral Health: The Path to Human Flourishing. With that said, I believe one of the most valuable resources is your own body, a way to stay close to it such as a body journal and perhaps the consideration of a new paradigm like the one presented in Philosophy in the Flesh : The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. Independent of any specific belief system you are committed to, I also recommend Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom and Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom.