Psyching the Zietgeist:
Current Culture Through a Mental Health Lens


Daring Greatly: How The Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms The Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead

Don’t let the cumbersome title of Brené Brown’s latest book discourage you from reading it. The title is the only snore in a lively work that is rare in its relevance for every single one of us. We’ve all felt shame. Most of us have shuddered a bit faced with the word vulnerability, even more in imagining ourselves doing vulnerability. But vulnerability—not oversharing, not purging—is at the heart of connection. In order to experience what is most deeply human—connection—we have to work through shame by learning shame resilience and thereby the courage that allows us to feel worthy of love.

Brené Brown’s work is based on research, but her writing is anything but dry. It’s intimate and story-laden and contains the maps we need to follow in order to become more courageously connected to ourselves and to the people we love.

For a quick introduction to her work you can find two of her talks on TED.com.

by Peggy Shafer

Posted on January 24, 2016
Posted in Book ReviewsTagged , ,

Disclaimer

The opinions expressed in this post are the views of the author(s) and don't necessarily reflect those of other members of the Women's Therapy Referral Service.

No One’s Favorite Topic..but a vital and important read: On Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Death and dying are high on the squick factor scale for most of us, and when we get right down to it, our ultimate fear isn’t of dying itself but of all that can happen to our bodies and minds months or years before we toddle off and vanish into the sunset. Perhaps we prefer to imagine that we will die in our sleep at 97 after completing a triathlon, but most of us who will be fortunate enough to live well into old age—fortunate because people in the last decades of their lives report the most satisfaction with their lives—will, in the end, experience a precipitous decline.

Reading the first half of Gawande’s book can be a somber excursion, but his beautiful, often lyrical, prose eases our way through the parts describing the grim history of our “care” for the frail elderly, the modern incarnation of which is assuring health and safety at the cost of autonomy, privacy and meaning.

In comparison, reading the second half of Being Mortal is an uplifting experience. Already there are scores of home-like living situations for frail people where the provision of privacy, autonomy and human—and animal—connections lengthen lives, motivate people to walk rather than waste away in wheelchairs and reduce prescriptions for all medications including those that render people confused and helpless. Gawande urges us to demand humanizing changes to all assisted living and nursing home environments and to insist that they change direction from fighting for longevity at all costs to fighting for what makes life meaningful.

Gawande’s latest book is laced through with intimate and moving stories of patients and of his own father’s decline and death and how they, and the innovators he learned from, radically changed the ways in which he conversed with patients close to the ends of their lives. In the final pages of the book he writes, “the aged…have priorities beyond being safe and living longer…the chance to shape one’s story is essential to sustaining meaning in life. We have the opportunity to refashion our institutions, our culture and our conversations in ways that transform the possibilities for the last chapters of our lives.”

by Peggy Shafer

Posted on August 7, 2015
Posted in Book ReviewsTagged ,

Disclaimer

The opinions expressed in this post are the views of the author(s) and don't necessarily reflect those of other members of the Women's Therapy Referral Service.