Over the past few months, I’ve regained my appreciation for keeping a journal. My practice had run aground last year, all notebooks consigned to a dresser drawer. Then on a whim I decided to reread The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own written by neurologist Richard Restak. This is a very accessible book. Each chapter stands by itself, and the chapters can be read in any sequence. What originally hooked me was the chapter the book is named after—and it deserves a post all its own, which it will get.
In a different chapter titled “Prescriptions for Insight,” Restak begins:
I often wonder what hope there can be for troubled people who can’t obtain professional help. It seems unfair that individually and collectively we’ve become increasingly dependent on psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers—professions that a century ago didn’t exist, at least in their present forms.
He goes on to consider and then discard the notion that the emotional disturbances we experience today were rarer in less-complicated times.
One has only to read the Greek tragedies, Shakespeare, or Dickens to see that people have been trying for centuries to cope with uncomfortable feelings, distressing thoughts, and uncontrollable impulses.
And then he suggests several methods people can use to help themselves. One suggestion, from a psychiatrist friend, is keeping a journal. Continue reading