Sunday, December 01, 2013
Monday, October 14, 2013
Sadly disappointed in Kiernan's $40 scifi novelette. I adore Kiernan and was looking forward with anticipation to her latest. The book was readable and well-written, but not up to her standard for plot development. At 123 pages, perhaps a little more plot over another 100-150 pages would have made the difference between an OK read and something that could proudly stand along side her ouvre.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
http://bookos.org (5 free downloads with registration, then monthly pro-rated donation)
Free downloadable ebooks (Use with discretion and precautions.)
Monday, September 09, 2013
Spoiler: the Book of Noah is a Webster's dictionary
Novel is readable. Story with a warning, but too made for tv movie plotting. I had higher expectations given the jacket had recommendations from Speed of Dark's Elizabeth Moon and Wag the Dog's Larry Beinhart.
Monday, August 19, 2013
I am struck by how reading fiction allows me to satisfy my needs for cohesion of self. This could very well be the underpinnings of why bibliotherapy works.
Friday, August 16, 2013
Friday, July 26, 2013
Monday, July 22, 2013
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
PsycNET - Display Record
Silly title for this post, but I've been watching back to back episodes of Netflix's new show about prison inmates (orange) and their lives inside. These women could definitely benefit from bibliotherapy as this study confirms. But, watching the show makes me wonder about the likelihood of funding ever being found to implement it in a meaningful way. Possibly libraries that had neighboring prisons could provide free outreach. I did this for a while with the local county jail in a community while library director. The women who participated impressed me with their depth of self-awareness and willingness to deconstruct the literature accordingly. Unfortunately, the program wasn't sustainable. Short staffing limited our outreach and the program was eventually dropped.
Monday, July 15, 2013
Announcing the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme | Reading Agency
Links to Reading Well lists as well as Society of Chief Librarians' strategic planning in the UK for 2013
To Every Reader Her Book : Creating Bibliotherapy for Women | Christine Cather - Academia.edu
Best review of current trends and description of application in bibliotherapy that I've seen in a long time. Definitely read chapter 5.
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Vernor Vinge's RAINBOW'S END has a lot going on. Multiple plot lines initially confuscate the deeper story of how in the near future we are doing battle for books, the real hold in your hand with warp and weight kind versus the plug in and access digitally kind. Interestingly, Vernor doesn't come down in support of either side rather suggesting room for both. However, he does indirectly warn about moving too fast and destroying print resources unnecessarily. As an academic, computer science and mathematician, he is well placed to see the threat to print as libraries are becoming digitized and books warehoused and shelf space converted for computers. On some level, Vernor is mirroring current trends toward de-valuing print as inconvenient and stodgy. When all the world's knowledge is at your fingertips, quite literally in Vinge's haptic interface scenarios, why would we want to encumber ourselves with print? Vinge somewhat cryptically implies that linguistically our ability to communicate will change without the written word. With a former poet as protagonist, we learn to value true creativity and not limit it to the lyrical. There is art in everything.
This simplifies the message. However, there are mixed messages in the novel. The protagonist suffers from the loss of an ability to weave words into poetry but discovers the poetry in networking multiple inputs into a coherent collaborative creation.
Rainbow's End also includes bio-chemical terrorist threats along with the inevitable play for world domination but I read this more as a plot device to move the story along. Vinge includes lots of tech projection of near future possibilties to support the cyberpunk tone I relish. But there is a human story here beyond the genre that makes the novel more:
"...there's something you have to learn as you grow up. Some people make their own problems. And they never stop hurting themselves and messing up the people around them. When that's the case, then you shouldn't keep hurting yourself for them."
Good bibliotherapeutic advice whether on a personal, communal or global scale.
Monday, July 08, 2013
free PDF's on the phenomenology of reading
Free pdf documents on Reader Response Criticism
Site for free titles on PDF.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Myss Library | Sacred Contracts | A Gallery of Archetypes
Useful listing of movies and fiction titles exemplifying archetypal personalities. You can even take Myss's tests to find your type.
Most useful application of this information for bibliotherapy would be in identifying emotional hurdles.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Sunday, June 09, 2013
Monday, June 03, 2013
Friday, May 31, 2013
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Introducing Bibliotherapy in Public Libraries for the Development of Health and Social Conditions of Post War Community in Jaffna District- An Exploratory Study « IFLA Reference and Information Services Blog
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
...the mesencephalon, the midbrain, ...is the part that governs the feedback system in our brains...it processes the signals that motivate us to do things. Every action, no matter how small, has its associated reward...a range of feedback...that inspiresvus to repeat certain choices...creat(ing) a vast variety of motivating desire modules that compete for our attention. We call the act of choosing between these our will. ... Think of the desire modules we all carry around as the people in (a) meeting, trying to get their opinions heard. (Human will is not an all-discerning soul but rather the heated debate.) It's the process...of all your desires clamoring for attention... if the reward associated with a particular desire is slight, it reduces our will to act on that desire... it's the differences in reward levels that change our will, and it's all mapped out.
Genius...is an infinite capacity for taking pains.
...genius is simply the bringing together of two hitherto distinct spheres of reference, or matrices--a talent for juxtapositions.
The mind defends itself against the disintegrative process of creativity...if genius doesn't reign itself in...common people take action...we put all our geniuses in one kind or another of isolation ward, to escape being infected.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
—D.H. Lawrence (The Letters of D.H Lawrence)
The idea that literature can provide solace, that it can help to ‘master’ the bleak places of the head and the heart and banish some of their wearying shadows, is nothing new: Plato believed that the arts were given to us by the muses to help us find harmony within ourselves, like a sort of handy creative auto-tune, and it is common enough to hear that someone’s grief was made a little bit more bearable by reading Tennyson, or that Meredith’s Modern Love offered solidarity in the middle of a divorce. The NHS have recently taken steps to solidify this notion, elevating it from a vague semi-universal truth to an almost medicinal level: bibliotherapy, the provision of services that quite literally prescribe certain literary works to patients suffering from afflictions like anxiety, stress and depression, has become increasingly ubiquitous, with almost every local healthcare authority in the UK now running versions. The schemes are, on the whole, experiencing a positive response, with most studies concluding that bibliotherapy is at least as effective as more acceptable modes of treating depression. Literature, then – or, more accurately, emotional engagement with literature – can clearly have a powerful effect on our mental health.
So far, so obvious; but if literature can strengthen our mental state and alter long-ingrained mental markings, the question really ought to be considered the other way round: does the literature we immerse ourselves in, particularly in our formative years, have the power to influence the way our patterns of behaviour and personalities actually form? Nick Hornby famously asked in High Fidelity “which came first, the music or the misery?” and this can be applied with just as much relevance to literature. Do we choose to read the things we do because we’re miserable (or argumentative, or content, or anything) or are we more likely to be these things because of what we have read? It is important here to clarify that by ‘reading’ I’m not talking about the huge variety of material that we casually consume every day, but the texts that we really engage with and invest in.
Being university educated in particular means you are likely to be surrounded by people whose heads are bursting with all the different representations of a human life that they have absorbed over the previous twenty-whatever years of their own lives, with the ones that have resonated the most remaining scored deeply into their minds. The echoes of this are unconscious, and leave an imprint on us as invisible and integral as our subconscious lives: even my own phrasing here echoes that of a book I loved intensely in my teenage years, Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song, with its talk of its protagonist’s first sexual fever as something that “scored her mind as a long drill scored the crumbling sods of a brown, still May,” an image that has embedded itself into my mind at some unobserved level and forever altered my perception of the verb “score.” Part of the reason for this could be that before we reach adulthood and have a fighting chance of actually experiencing something of the world, the most exciting emotional experiences offered to us are more likely to come from within the pages of a novel than the minutiae of a school day. This isn’t to say that the events of our actual
Literature has long been charged with the ability to corrupt, usually to do with – as Lady Chatterley’s Lover and copious others illustrate – sex or death. In the 18th century, this is best evidenced by the way the phenomenon of ‘Wertherism’ seized the public imagination in a thoroughly contagious manner: Goethe’s 1774 novel The Sorrows of Young Werther became a veritable craze, and according to Eric Lane in his introduction to the text its popularity soon “led to a Europe full of young men wearing blue coats and yellow breeches and suffering from melancholy,” a delicious image that indicates both the glamour and the ubiquity of the trend. ‘Wertherism’ held a nigh-on hypnotic appeal for both men and women, as although Werther himself is a young man, the object of his suicidal affections, Charlotte, is never given a voice, meaning women could identify with the melancholy of the protagonist without the constraints of gender.
The Werther phenomenon has often been blamed for provoking a spate of suicide attempts, and although this too simplistic, the sheer popularity of the novel did allow its legions of readers to see that their mental disquiet was not as unique or as bizarre as they had previously thought, and provided them with a method of expression. This is something that has occurred time and time again, in varying modes, but the level at which people engage is the same: the feeling of seeing the way you feel spelled out in linguistic fireworks takes hold of both your mind and your heart in the same utterance. The popularity of The Smiths in the 1980’s made being lovelorn and lonely and a little strange more acceptable, just as the phenomenon of The Sorrows of Young Werther did, and people fell in love with lyrics like “Is it wrong not to always be glad? No, it’s not wrong – but I must add: How can someone so young sing words so sad?” in the same way people had with Goethe’s effusive prose two hundred years later.
The idea that the emotional effects of text on a reader can be used to ascertain the true value of a poem or a novel was challenged with Wimsatt and Beardsley’s ‘Affective Fallacy,’ but inverted it can be used to explain some aspects at least of the choices people make and the behavioural patterns they exhibit. Particular traits accumulate over the years and are most often picked up from those around us, whether our parents or our peers, but an early infatuation with Sylvia Plath could certainly cultivate a tendency towards introspection just as an obsession with Jack Kerouac could entice someone towards a nomadic lifestyle rather than a desire to settle down.
I grew up fascinated by books and plays and poems that revolved around female characters who could be categorised, reductively but tellingly, as ‘strong and difficult women,’ from the obligatory pre-teen identification with Hermione Granger (such an irritatingly smug demeanor! Such terrible hair!) to a pseudo-academic obsession with Charlotte Brontë: for a while, I think I genuinely believed in my heart of hearts that I was the modern day equivalent of Jane Eyre. Most significantly, I fell in love at around about the age of fourteen with Beatrice, the indisputable heroine of Much Ado About Nothing, by way of the 1993 film (thanks for that, Emma Thompson) and somewhere along the line my affection for “dear Lady Disdain” developed into a deeply-rooted belief in the association between strength, attraction and argumentativeness. Even now, several years and many, many more library fines later, my immediate reaction to any situation in which I feel vulnerable – whether it’s meeting new people, intimidating social events or romantic relationships – is an argumentativeness that doesn’t even do a particularly god job of walking the tenuous tightrope between ‘stimulating’ and ‘abrasive.’
Yes, reading is a mental rather than physical event, but most of us spend far more time in our heads than anywhere else. As Lawrence wrote and as ‘bibliotherapy’ hopes, we can indeed “shed [our] sicknesses in books,” but the relationship between what we read and what we feel is more complex than that. Perhaps literature is not just important in efforts to improve our mental state, as the ‘reading cure,’ but can prove integral in laying the foundations of its construction in the first place.
Everyone knows that curling up with a good novel is relaxing but what if reading can do more than just boost your mood? Experts believe reading can transform lives, helping people deal with a variety of psychological and emotional problems, from stress and anxiety to grief and depression.
Using books as therapy or bibliotherapy as it is known, is not a new idea. Sigmund Freud used literature during psychoanalysis sessions with his patients and books were used to help soldiers recovering from physical and emotional trauma following the First and Second World Wars.
Now reading as therapy is set to enjoy a resurgence. In May, a new pilot program, Books on Prescription, will launch in libraries across the Central West area of New South Wales. Under the scheme, funded by a $71,000 library development grant, GPs and other health professionals will be able to recommend self-help books on prescription from around 14 public libraries for people dealing with a variety of psychological issues.
UK research has found that reading is more relaxing than listening to music, going for a walk or having a cup of tea, reducing stress levels by 68 per cent. Cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis from the consultancy Mindlab International found that reading silently for just six minutes, slowed the heart rate and eased muscle tension in research volunteers.
Inspired by the UK's successful Get Into Reading program, the Victorian Book Well scheme uses literature in the form of fiction, inspirational stories and poetry within read-aloud reading groups to improve health and wellbeing. "I think bibliotherapy development using imaginative literature shows great therapeutic potential," says McLaine who is also a PhD candidate in the study of bibliotherapy. The aim, she explains, "is to assist people to think about more creative ways to solve personal problems, through reading about how fictional characters similar to them faced problems and resolved them. These characters often seem to speak directly to us; keeping us company, reminding us we are not the only one feeling this way and at times offering us hope."
Associate professor Vijaya Manicavasagar, director of psychological services at the Black Dog Institute, agrees that prescribing reading in mild cases of depression "if it is part of a concerted effort to lift someone's mood, is a terrific idea."
"It would be wonderful to see a nationwide initiative" she says. Reading literature can give "a new perspective on life and problems that you might be encountering so you get to see how other people might have dealt with a similar problem or coped with a particular situation so it exposes you to new ways of thinking, a bit like cognitive therapy. As well as pure escapism, the experience of identifying with a character who comes through adversity may also build self-confidence."
Manicavasagar believes books can help a person de-stress by changing their emotional state. "You might start reading a book feeling quite strung out and anxious but if you really get into it you are transported to a different emotional state which is usually better than the one you started off with," she explains.
But, she stresses, "if you have got a serious psychiatric disorder like a major depression where your concentration is impaired and where you are finding it difficult to follow things or you have a psychotic illness for example, then of course prescribing reading is not going to be all that helpful."
For those dealing with the loss of loved ones Manicavasagar recommends Salvation Creek: An Unexpected Life by Susan Duncan. "It is a about dealing with grief — which in the case of the author has to do with the deaths of her brother and husband. I think it is an uplifting book which could be helpful for people dealing with major life changes."
(by Sandy Smith from the Sydney Morning Herald)
Over the past weeks I’ve been looking at how reading can be a means of pleasure, education, and self-development. But I also happen to believe – and I’m not the only one, not by a long shot – that a relationship with books can increase wellbeing. The right book at the right time can be a powerful thing, not just amusing and teaching, but also reassuring and even healing. Indeed, an ancient Greek library at Thebes bore an inscription on the lintel naming it a “Healing-Place for the Soul.”
The term “bibliotherapy,” from the Greek biblion (books) + therapeia (healing), was coined in 1916 by Samuel McChord Crothers (1857-1927). Crothers, a Unitarian minister and essayist, introduced the word in an Atlantic Monthly piece called “A Literary Clinic.” The use of books as a therapeutic tool then came to the forefront in America during the two world wars, when librarians received training in how to suggest helpful books to veterans recuperating in military hospitals. Massachusetts General Hospital had founded one of the first patients’ libraries, in 1844, and many other state institutions – particularly mental hospitals – had followed suit by the time of the First World War. Belief in the healing powers of reading was becoming more widespread; whereas once it had been assumed that only religious texts could edify, now it was clear that there could be benefits to secular reading too.
Read this for what ails you
Clinical bibliotherapy is still a popular strategy, often used in combination with other medical approaches to treat mental illness. Especially in the UK, where bibliotherapy is offered through official National Health Service (NHS) channels, library and health services work together to give readers access to books that may aid the healing process. Over half of England’s public library systems offer bibliotherapy programs, with a total of around 80 schemes documented as of 2006. NHS doctors will often write patients a ‘prescription’ for a recommended book to borrow at a local library. These books will usually fall under the umbrella of “self-help,” with a medical or mental health leaning: guides to overcoming depression, building self-confidence, dealing with stress, and so on.
Books can serve as one component of cognitive behavioral therapy, which aims to modify behavior through the identification of irrational thoughts and emotions. Bibliotherapy has also been shown to be an effective method of helping children and teenagers cope with problems: everything from parents’ divorce to the difficulties of growing up and resisting peer pressure. Overall, bibliotherapy is an appealing strategy for medical professionals to use with patients because it is low-cost and low-risk but disproportionately effective.
In addition to clinical bibliotherapy, libraries also support what is known as “creative bibliotherapy” – mining fiction and poetry for their healing powers. Library pamphlets and displays advertise their bibliotherapy services under names such as “Read Yourself Well” or “Reading and You,” with eclectic, unpredictable lists of those novels and poems that have proved to be inspiring or consoling. With all of these initiatives, the message is clear: books have the power to change lives by reminding ordinary, fragile people that they are not alone in their struggles.
The School of Life
The School of Life is pop philosopher Alain de Botton’s brainchild, a London hub where trendy, angsty types can come to learn tactics for how to live well. Classes, psychotherapy sessions, secular ‘sermons,’ and a library of recommended reading tackle subjects such as job satisfaction, creativity, parenting, ethics, finances, and facing death with dignity. In addition, the School offers bibliotherapy sessions (one-on-one, for adults or children, or, alternatively, for couples) that can take place in person or online.
A prospective reader fills out a reading history questionnaire before meeting the bibliotherapist, and can expect to walk away from the session with one instant book prescription. A full prescription of another 5-10 books arrives within a few days.
In 2011 The Guardian sent six of its writers on School of Life bibliotherapy sessions; their consensus seemed to be that, although the sessions produced some intriguing book recommendations, at £80 (or $123) each they were an unnecessarily expensive way of deciding what to read next – especially compared to asking a friend or skimming newspapers’ reviews of new books. Nonetheless, it is good to see bibliotherapy being taken seriously in a modern, non-medical context.
A consoling canon
You don’t need a doctor’s or bibliotherapist’s prescription to convince you that reading makes you feel better. It cheers you up, makes you take yourself less seriously, and gives you a peaceful space for thought. Even if there is no prospect of changing your situation, getting lost in a book at least allows you to temporarily forget your woes. In Comfort Found in Good Old Books (1911), a touching work he began writing just 10 days after his son’s sudden death, George Hamlin Fitch declared “it has been my constant aim to preach the doctrine of the importance of cultivating the habit of reading good books, as the chief resource in time of trouble and sickness.”
Indeed, as Rick Gekoski noted last year in an article entitled “Some of my worst friends are books,” literary types have always turned to reading to help them through grief. He cites the examples of Joan Didion coming to grips with her husband’s death in The Year of Magical Thinking, or John Sutherland facing up to his alcoholism in The Boy Who Loved Books. Gekoski admits to being “struck and surprised, both envious and a little chagrined, by how literary their frame of reference is. In the midst of the crisis…a major reflex is to turn, for consolation and understanding, to favorite and esteemed authors.” Literary critic Harold Bloom confirms that books can provide comfort; in The Western Canon he especially recommends William Wordsworth, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson as “great poets one can read when one is exhausted or even distraught, because in the best sense they console.”
Just as in a lifetime of reading you will develop your own set of personal classics, you are also likely to build up a canon of favorite books to consult in a crisis – books that you turn to again and again for hope, reassurance, or just some good laughs. For instance, in More Book Lust Nancy Pearl swears by Bill Bryson’s good-natured 1995 travel book about England, Notes from a Small Island: “This is the single best book I know of to give someone who is depressed, or in the hospital.” (With one caveat: beware, your hospitalized reader may well suffer a rupture or burst stitches from laughing.)
Just what you needed
There’s something magical about that serendipitous moment when a reader comes across just the right book at just the right time. Charlie D’Ambrosio confides that he approaches books with a quiet wish: “I hope in my secret heart someone, somewhere, mysteriously influenced and moved, has written exactly what I need” (his essay “Stray Influences” is collected in The Most Wonderful Books). Yet this is not the same as superstitiously expecting to open a book and find personalized advice. Believe it or not, this has been an accepted practice at various points in history. “Bibliomancy” means consulting a book at random to find prophetic help – usually the Bible, as in the case of St. Augustine and St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis’s first biographer, Thomas of Celano, wrote that “he humbly prayed that he might be shown, at his first opening the book, what would be most fitting for him to do” (in his First Life of St Francis of Assisi).
Perhaps meeting the right book is less like a logical formula and more like falling in love. You can’t really explain how it happened, but there’s no denying that it’s a perfect match. Nick Hornby likens this affair of the mind to a dietary prescription – echoing that medical tone bibliotherapy can often have: “sometimes your mind knows what it needs, just as your body knows when it’s time for some iron, or some protein” (in More Baths, Less Talking).
Entirely by happenstance, a book that has recently meant a lot to me is one of the six inaugural School of Life titles, How to Stay Sane by psychotherapist Philippa Perry. Clearly and practically written, with helpful advice on how to develop wellbeing through self-observation, healthy relationships, optimism, and exercise, Perry’s book turned out to offer just what I needed.
If you’re having trouble choosing your next read and would like some help from a literary dietician or matchmaker – otherwise known as a bibliotherapist – we’d love to hear from you on our “Help Me, Bookkaholic!” page. Let us know what you’re looking for, and one of us amateurs will try our hand at bibliotherapy. Or head over and try one of the books reviewed in our “What Should I Read Next” column.
Next time: Sometimes reading really depressing books can be good for you. From Aristotle’s classic theory of catharsis to the modern misery memoir, I look at how encountering literary tragedy can actually be uplifting.
[For a helpful historical survey of bibliotherapy, see the following articles: “
Friday, May 10, 2013
As a lover of books, I believe that you cannot open a book — any book — without learning something. New research now shows that, in addition to just learning about other people, places, and things, readers actually take on the experiences and beliefs of the characters in books.
In a study published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers at Ohio State University report the results of six experiments that tested the degree to which people found themselves feeling the emotions, thoughts, behaviors, goals, and traits of the characters in fictional stories. Overall, the authors report that this phenomenon, called “experience-taking,” can lead to real changes in the lives of the readers, albeit temporary.
The first three experiments demonstrated that people must be able to let go of their own identity while reading in order to undergo significant experience-taking. For example, readers who read in a cubicle with a mirror were less likely to take on the identity of the fictional characters. The second three experiments evaluated the characteristics of the writing that allowed for more or less experience-taking.
One experiment involved 82 undergraduate students who were asked to read a short story about a student who overcame obstacles to vote. Several versions of the story — written in first-person and written in third-person, and featuring a student at the same university as the participants and featuring a different university — were read among the group. After reading, the readers completed a questionnaire about how much they adopted the perspective of the character. The researchers also tracked whether or not the students voted in the November 2008 Presidential election, which took place only a few days after the experiment.
Students who read the story in first-person about a student at their own university showed the highest level of experience-taking, and 65% of these students reported voting on Election Day. Only 29% of students who read a first-person account from a different university reported voting.
Another experiment involved 70 heterosexual college students who read a day-in-the-life story of another student. There were three distinct versions of the story: one in which the student was revealed as homosexual early in the story, one in which his homosexuality was revealed late, and one in which the student was heterosexual. Students reported more experience-taking when the homosexuality was not revealed until late in the story, compared to when the homosexuality was revealed early. Also, readers of the late-reveal version expressed more favorable, and less judgmental, attitudes toward homosexuals after reading the story than readers of the other two versions. A similar experiment was conducted, with similar results, using versions of a story in which a student was revealed to be African American early or late in the narrative that were read by non-African American students.
Overall, the authors concluded that a reader can immerse himself in a book when he can identify with the character and forget about his own identity. The changes in self-judgment, attitude, and behavior that accompany this immersion into a character’s life can lead to real-world changes or actions, but the duration of effect is not clear.
People acquire knowledge from books, and the knowledge and perspective gained from fictional narratives may be true or false, depending on the story. Readers learn more than what is simply stated in black and white on a page; they use references to the real world — and their own lives — to integrate the story into their own knowledge base. The true worth of a book is measured by what a reader takes away from it.
So many books, so little time.
Butler AC, Dennis NA, & Marsh EJ (2012). Inferring facts from fiction: Reading correct and incorrect information affects memory for related information. Memory (Hove, England) PMID: 22640369
Kaufman GF, & Libby LK (2012). Changing Beliefs and Behavior Through Experience-Taking. Journal of personality and social psychology PMID: 22448888
It’s World Book Night tonight. Last year I dashed round the hospital I work in, giving out free books to harassed shift workers on a Saturday night. This year I’ve been lucky enough to be selected again and will give out fiction to local cinema goers.
I love the idea of promoting reading. For me fiction has been a life line for my mental health from an early age. I come from a family of voracious readers and we were always encouraged to read. Often the four of us would be in disparate corners of the house immersed in books and the house was always full of novels.
For me, fiction provided an insight into the minds of others and it was a revelation for me that I wasn’t the only one suffering from anguish and distress. As a child, I tended to be apprehensive and worried, experiencing anxiety at things others considered common place or mundane. As I grew older my anxiety increased and I graduated to being a messed up teenager with a penchant for sleeping, occasional substance abuse and prolonged dark moods. I first experienced a bout of depression in my mid teens and reading was my coping mechanism.
I started to experience searing anxiety and disturbing thoughts about how bleak life felt. I withdrew, lost my confidence and couldn’t socialise as I usually had. The only time I felt I could lose myself was in a good book. I’d read compulsively, devouring book after book, to distract myself from feeling so worried and negative. I’d emerge every so often to go to the library and get more books. It felt like reading helped me through by allowing me to relax and be somewhere else.
An added dimension for me was that reading fiction allowed me to see inside other people’s heads. A well written novel conveys the world from a different perspective. It’s like seeing through the eyes of another person. What I found (and still often find) is that this taught me that my experiences weren’t uncommon.
I gained comfort from reading about other people’s emotional struggles. I discovered that fictional characters can experience random anxiety which rips them apart, searing depression which puts them under the covers in their beds and mental unease which they struggle through. It felt inclusive for me to discover that maybe my experiences were more universal than I first thought. I also found that, often, books which depict depression or anxiety well are written by those who’ve experienced it themselves too.
I went on to suffer more severe depression and anxiety in later life and at times lost the ability to experience much pleasure. If I lose interest in reading that’s always a bad sign for me and an indicator that I need to stop and scrutinise what’s going on and think about relapse prevention. During bleak episodes of depression I would see a return to reading as a sign things were looking up.
I’m a keen advocator of reading fiction, whether it’s brutally real or totally escapist. It definitely has a therapeutic effect for me.
‘Writing helps you to confront who you really are’
This statement was brought to my attention at a workshop I attended and it resonated with me for many reasons, one of them was because I’d just started writing a blog, I had no idea what it would become but it became very cathartic.
I’d always written the odd piece of poetry, but I didn’t think anything of it other than it being an explosion of my feelings in words.
When I started to write my blog, the idea was to help me release some of the thoughts and feelings I was experiencing, hence its name ‘Free Your Mind – Pain to poetry’.
I hoped it may help other people feeling the same way, but also to help those around me to understand me better, and in a way help me to really search and explore myself from the inside out.
I spent a few weeks updating my blog before I had an incident with a close friend where I could sense a feeling of 'just snap out of it’, that I was playing the victim to my feelings coming from them. After another horrid panic attack, I decided I had enough of being misunderstood and that they needed to understand just what I was going through, the struggles I was having with my feelings, every day the darkness I was in. I wanted their understanding not pity.
I emailed a link to my blog to all of friends and family, hoping they would read it and finally understand, I was overwhelmed by the support I received messages telling me how brave I was, how well I’d hidden so much, another friend told me she’d cried reading it because she really had no idea that things were as bad as they were.
True to the symptoms of anxiety I started to feel unworthy of the praise Id received, why was I getting praise for this? I didn’t feel deserving of it, all I was doing was writing a blog, but what I didn’t realise was that I was putting myself out there, facing up to my issues and starting on my road to healing. I say healing and not recovery, because I don’t think you ever fully recover from a mental health problem but you do learn how to cope.
At this particular workshop, it hit home exactly what my blog and writing had done for me. I had always loved reading and writing, my degree was in communications, culture and media. However In 2008 I was told by an old boss that my writing skills were poor, and then diagnosed with dyslexia, my confidence was shot to pieces and so I lost all interest in reading and writing altogether
By 2012 after several life altering incidents, I had become a serious bottler of my feelings and emotions and mastered the art of faking a smile every day. To most I was happy and smiley but alone I’d cry every morning, upset that I’d woken up to another day of my life and cry myself to sleep at night after spending the day over thinking everything, questioning my existence and hating myself. By January 2013 I had lost all sense of purpose and contemplated suicide daily.
This brings me back to the statement that ‘Writing helps you to confront who you are’, I’ve always hated confrontation and realised that I always expressed myself best in written form. I didn’t know it at the time, but through starting my blog I had started to open up again, confront my feelings or at least began to express them and began to explore and understand the situations in my life that had made me predisposed to the depression, panic and anxiety disorder that I have. From the past to the present, it made me realise just how long I had to go, but also how far I had come.
I’d recommend writing to anyone having trouble expressing their feelings, please feel free to contact me at my blog for anything x
Read Natasha's blog From pain to poetry
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Life after death, life without bodily desire, as modeled by computer simulation, but what are the moral implications. Sawyer always raises compelling questions and has the science to support his theories.
Quote p68: Wilder Penfield who did work on directly stimulating the brain...found it easy to elicit vivid memories of long forgotten things.
Neural nets firing, flooding the brain with images and endorphins as a result of anoxia explains sense of peace.
5 models for senescence and death:
1. Stochastic theory--bodies as machines that break down
2. Hayflick phenomenon--human cells only divide 50 times
3. Smudged Xerox hypothesis--DNA introduces errors every time its copied
4. Toxic Waste Theory--aka Free radicals are at fault
5. Autoimmune hypothesis--our cells become confused and attack themselves
The soulwave discovered leaving the body at point of death raised imolications for inutero and is discovered in 9 or 10th week of pregnancy, providing justification for early term abortion.
Without our memories, our pasts, what we were, it wouldn't be anything we'd recognize as a continuation of the same person.
"Humor is the response to the sudden formation of unexpected neural nets."
Laughter is the response that goes along with new connections forming in the brain, with synapses firing in ways they've never fired before...
When the joke wears thin, the neural net has been established.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Sunday, April 14, 2013
By ivy league neuroscientist Lisa Genova is a novel about loss, aging, letting go, in the context on a psycholinguist with early onset alzheimers.
Informative: Stroop, Raven's Colored Progressive Matrices, Luria Mental Rotation, Boston Naming, WAIS-- Picture Arrangement, Benton Visual Arrangement, NYU-Story Recall...tests for diagnosing and charting dementia.
Brains of Alzheimer's patients had reduced levels of acetycholine...and the hippocampus, critical for the formation of new menories became mired in plaques and tangles...anomia a pathological slip of the tongue was a symptom
Affects parietal lobes early on (where we keep our internal sense of extra personal space representations
Thursday, April 04, 2013
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
In The Skin Of A Lion: The Perfect Book to Read in March - Bookkaholic
Since Bookkaholic has a nice ReadersAnonymous ring to it and may aid in finding new reading matter, check out this review on one of my favorite authors (search this site for Ondatjee) as representative.
New self help book list launches at Bandon Library | SouthernStar | News
But is it bibliotherapy?
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
A few titles recommended in the text (along with everything by Murakami and Gibson) include The Information and House of Leaves.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
In the sequel to Little Brother, we find our hero amping up, politicking with a purpose. And with the same theme: things are bad and might well get worse. Marcus gets wise advise from his childhood friend Jolu, advice easily usable, harder to actualize but worth mastering:
"Jolu was right: I just neede to take a step in the direction I wanted to head and stay flexible enough to keep moving that way no matter what happened."
For all ages, the young, the still young, the once young-Doctorow informs, entertains, educates us and keeps us hungry for more. A prolofic writer, he makes every effort to satisfy the obsessive/compulsive reader. But my appetite is only whetted...can't wait for the next one. Doctorow twitted Down & Out Magic Kingdom might be due for a prequel. Bring it.
Saturday, March 02, 2013
Friday, March 01, 2013
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Monday, February 11, 2013
Friday, February 08, 2013
Monday, January 28, 2013
Sunday, January 27, 2013
Friday, January 25, 2013
Sunday, January 20, 2013
The reading year ahead — or how I plan to tackle at least a dozen novels that are listed in '1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die' - Reading Matters
I wish I could interest readers like this in working with me on my bibliotherapy project. How does reading these titles affect your state of mind (individually, not as a group). Feedback is what readersanonymous lacks and I don't seem to know how to make it inviting to participate.
Maybe we as readers would rather just read than have to deconstruct the afteraffects.
Friday, January 18, 2013
"You define a tree and you do not see what it is; it becomes its name. It is the same with woman and man. Everywhere ... one or the other, male or female, abandoned by the other."
Canadian author explores gender and "otherness" in story of hermaphrodite identity crisis. Do we know who we are apart from how we are defined by others? Winter lyrically deconstructs "know thyself."
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Monday, January 14, 2013
The Healing Power of Creative Expression by Geri Giebel Chavis is part of a series library on therapeutic writing worth review. Nothing earth shatteringly original here but basic description of methodology and selection of poems she has selected for use in her bibliotherapeutic practice. Probably a good example of poetry therapy and how it is applied today.
Friday, January 11, 2013
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Happiness. Our eternal quest. What if we knew exactly what would make us happy? What if we could see how every action's repercussions would affect us? We could choose to be happy.
What if we already have this ability? And we choose not to use it?
As always Doctorow makes me think. His ability to define universal issues in the context of modern mass dilemma is uncanny. His voice is full of confidence in human nature even while revealing to us the flaky crust we each want to call our soul. He makes me feel like we are all baked in this pie together, 40 and 20 blackbirds; that this is how we might have our pie and eat it too. We are the pie.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Sunday, December 09, 2012
Monday, December 03, 2012
The whole impetus behind my inspiration and intent for bibliotherapy is that creativity heals, is a healing process. But in reading Readers Block with all the notes of creatives who have committed suicide or have been locked up in looney bins, I am reassessing and thinking it is not so simple.
Feeling deeply is dangerous even when those feelings are transmuted through an artistic medium. So therapeutically accessing feelings requires filters, thus art's structural confines and the importance of taking the time to develop skill sets related to the chosen medium.
Reading what someone else has written is a filtering by the author.i.e., the work has been done for the reader. It is only by fleshing out the work in relation to personal references that there is access and process occurring in any meaningful way for the reader. The mist meaningful being to in turn become an author and make yet more meaning
Until my pain or pleasure or peace is looking back at me, I am not fully conscious of its worth and able to integrate the feeling in a healthy way, whether reexperiencing or learning to move on.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
lorebrarian sent you a note: I propose that when some disturbing waking experience is reactivated in sleep and carried forward into REM, where it is matched by similarity in feeling to earlier memories, a network of older associations is stimulated and is displayed as a sequence of compound images that we experience as dreams. This melding of new and old memory fragments modifies the network of emotional self-defining memories, and thus updates the organizational picture we hold of ‘who I am and what is good for me and what is not.’ In this way, dreaming diffuses the emotional charge of the event and so prepares the sleeper to wake ready to see things in a more positive light, to make a fresh start.
From 24hr day theory, could also apply to how we process what we read.