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Posted April 26, 2011
Classified as a self-help book, Kirk Wessbecker's autobiographical battle with bipolar disorder, Thoughts Behind the Mind incorporates scientific explanations, spiritual connections with God, and practical advice for individuals living with bipolar disorder. The book is a collection of ideas, theories, and poetry pertaining to Kirk's thoughts about the disorder.
Beginning in 1977, much of the book is a journal that presents the drug addictions, substance abuse, D.U.I. arrests, and the overall roller coaster experience that is bipolar disorder. Thoughts Behind the Mind is primarily geared to help individuals with the disorder, and their loved ones, understand that there is hope, through God. Readers will undoubtedly benefit from this in-depth glimpse into Kirk's life.
In his own words, "Bipolar disorder is an illness that can take a person to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows." Kirk explains that medication and meditation-"seeing the world through the mind's eyes"-are essential if one is to avoid the feelings of depression and helplessness that can afflict the individual. Speaking from experience, his tendency to self-medicate led to a lengthy stay in the psychiatric ward as he suffered from psychosis.
The heart of Kirk's Thoughts Behind the Mind revolves around spirituality and the ultimate goal of being "one with the spirit as God was with his son." Without this union, those who suffer from bipolar disorder will have a difficult time attaining peace and stability. Kirk feels that individuals with this disorder need more than this world can offer; they need the help of God to separate their true feelings from those that are manipulated by the effects of the disorder.
In Chapter 3 of the book, Kirk presents a number of interesting thoughts and ideas, describing life with bipolar disorder. Interestingly, Kirk examines the positives and negatives of the illness in several sections ranging from, "Bipolar Illness Advantages," to "Developing Bipolar Disorder." From examining emotions of anger, helplessness, and guilt to the lack of energy that results from the release of all these various emotions, Kirk does a thorough and commendable job of describing the illness for those on the inside and outside.
The fourth chapter of the book is particularly moving, especially for family members, friends, and loved ones of those with bipolar disorder. This chapter is a collection of poems depicting Kirk's toughest and most draining confrontations with the illness. His poetry includes, but is not limited to, "A Day in the Hospital," "Asylum," "Enough," and "Home at Last." The resonating theme in his poetry describes the "thoughts behind his mind," regardless of whether they were thoughts of anguish, guilt and helplessness or positive, hopeful thoughts such as being grateful.
Overall, Kirk Wessbecker's Thoughts Behind the Mind is a powerful book written honestly and with conviction. Those who suffer from bipolar disorder, will form an instant connection and affinity with the book-and potentially be able to change by seeking God and a more spiritual lifestyle. Those who learn about the illness in textbooks and seminars will realize that bipolar disorder is an entirely different beast when faced in real life.
A must read, Thoughts Behind the Mind is an agent of change in the world of psychology, a thoroughly riveting piece of literature that belongs in all mental health institutions.
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