September Self-development

This month we explore the field of psychology since Freud and our windy path to self-realisation, fulfilment and enlightenment.

Syndetics book coverThe psychology book : from shamanism to cutting-edge neuroscience, 250 milestones in the history of psychology
“A leading historian in his field, Pickren assembles 250 milestones in psychology, from shamanism to the 2013 White House BRAIN Initiative (brain research through advancing innovate neuro-technologies). Each entry has a page of concise description and explanation opposite a portrait, document, or work of art. Milestones include Aristotle’s De Anima; London’s medieval Bedlam (Bethlem Hospital); Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy; Elizabeth Loftus on misinformation effect and false memories; and Bill Moyers’s “Mind-Body Medicine” on PBS. Some topics and pioneers, such as the brain, soul, tests, medications, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung, receive repeat attention. Suggested readings add to the value of this book for readers who wish to delve further into the milestones.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverMe, myself, and why : searching for the science of self
“Who are we? Who am I? Those are the questions science writer Ouellette (The Calculus Diaries, 2010) tackles in this elegant and very personal inquiry into identity and the science of the self. Ouellette examines the many aspects of the making of a self, including discussions on nature versus nurture. Ouellette leapfrogs through scientific, philosophical, and even pop history, which makes for fun reading as she expresses her views of an array of figures and artifacts, from Gregor Mendel to Francis Galton, John Locke to Kevin Bacon, Harry Potter movies to Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending sci-fi film, Inception. She discusses the so-called Prozac gene, brain scans, the hangover gene, avatars, sexual orientation and gender-atypical behaviours, the persistence and accuracy of memory, consciousness and the soul, and other provocative topics. An entertaining, insightful, and thoughtful reflection on our assumptions about ourselves and the mystery that is at the heart of the human story.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe good psychopath’s guide to success
“What is a good psychopath? And how can thinking like one help you to be the best that you can be? Dr Kevin Dutton has spent a lifetime studying psychopaths. He first met SAS hero Andy McNab during a research project. What he found surprised him, McNab is a diagnosed psychopath but he is a GOOD PSYCHOPATH. Unlike a BAD PSYCHOPATH, he is able to dial up or down qualities such as ruthlessness, fearlessness, decisiveness, conscience and empathy to get the very best out of himself – and others – in a wide range of situations. Together, they explore the ways in which a good psychopath thinks differently – and what that could mean for you. The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success gives you an entertaining and thought provoking road-map to self-fulfilment, both in your personal life and in your career.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverHow to be alone
“Our fast-paced society does not approve of solitude; being alone is literally anti-social and some even find it sinister. Why is this so when autonomy, personal freedom and individualism are more highly prized than ever before? Sara Maitland answers this question by exploring changing attitudes throughout history. Offering experiments and strategies for overturning our fear of solitude, she helps us to practise it without anxiety and encourages us to see the benefits of spending time by ourselves. By indulging in the experience of being alone, we can be inspired to find our own rewards and ultimately lead more enriched, fuller lives.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverHow to deal with adversity
“No matter how insulated we are by wealth or friends we can all expect to undergo some form of loss, failure or disappointment. The common reaction is to bear it as best we can – some do this better than others – and move on with life. Christopher Hamilton proposes a different response to adversity. Focusing on the arenas of family, love, illness and death, he explores constructive ways to deal with adversity and embrace it to derive unique insight into our condition. Offering examples from history, literature and science, he suggests how we might recognize it as a precious source of enlightenment, shaping our very existence.”(Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverConstructive wallowing : how to beat bad feelings by letting yourself have them
“If you’ve ever ignored difficult feelings or if your inner critic has been riding you to be constructive every minute of the day, psychotherapist Gilbertson has written a counterintuitive self-help book that offers constructive advice for boosting self-compassion by wallowing in negative feelings. She begins with an easy premise: letting yourself experience both positive and negative emotions allows your body to have a healthy balance, which helps you to make informed, rounded decisions. Alternatively, ignoring healthy wallowing is a recipe for escalating problems as well as sustained depression and unresolved emotions. Although it’s a simple premise, it’s certainly not easy to change ingrained habits.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverWhy mindfulness is better than chocolate : your guide to inner peace, enhanced focus and deep happiness
“Mindfulness practice can help you reduce stress, improve performance, manage pain and increase wellbeing. These are the reasons why elite athletes, performing artists and business leaders are taking up the practice, and why it is being introduced into the world’s most successful companies, banks, business schools – even the US Army…David Michie introduces mindfulness practice and offers innovative solutions to common obstacles. Written with warmth and good humour, Why Mindfulness is Better than Chocolate is the ultimate guide to self-discovery. It will make chocolate taste better too!” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverCalming your angry mind : how mindfulness & compassion can free you from anger & bring peace to your life / Jeffrey Brantley, MD.
“Chronically angry people suffer loneliness, isolation, shame, and regret; experience dysfunctional interpersonal relationships; and are at increased risk for stress-related illnesses. Brantley’s primer recommends meditation based in mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom so those crippled by anger can eventually “enjoy a happier, kinder, life.” Borrowing broadly from Buddhist tradition and modern Zen master Thich Nhat Han, mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zin, emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman, and others, the author shows that the best way to learn “to uncouple the ‘thought train’ that carries anger” is to be present in the moment and make a commitment to a daily mindfulness meditation practice. Brantley employs the three basic mindfulness skills of intention, attention, and attitude, and the seven core elements of mindfulness practice-non-judging, non-striving, trust, patience, acceptance, a beginner’s mind, and letting go- as initiation into a personal meditation habit. In time, fear (usually the source of anger) dissipates and self-compassion and understanding emerge. Guided meditations appear throughout, in addition to individual stories, and data from studies on the benefits of mindfulness.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverBecoming Freud : the making of a psychoanalyst / Adam Phillips.
“Renowned psychoanalyst Phillips (One Way and Another) conjures up a vibrant portrait of Sigmund Freud, examining psychiatry’s most famous figure as it contends with the difficulties of placing his life in biographic form. In contrast to the more popular focus on an older Freud, Phillips introduces us to a younger version: the eldest son of Jewish immigrants, gifted but troubled by childhood trauma, whose future ideas were founded upon these aspects of his upbringing. And so the emergence of psychoanalysis comes at the end of this story, implying that the widely influential school of thought is merely one aspect of Freud’s larger story. Much like psychoanalysis itself, this book does not seek to claim and advance any singular sense of truth; instead, it encourages us to relish in the illuminations, indeed the very uncertainties of the process. As such, it’s a biography that might even have received the approval of Freud himself.” (Syndetics)

Resilience and wellbeing, at home and at work

This month in our personal development picks, there’s lots to help you survive in the office jungle and power through pressure at work. Plus, Michael Foely writes about happiness in the twenty-first century, and Kleiman and Wenzel give helpful advice for couples dealing with post-partum depression. Plus, mindfulness and reconsidering our priorities in the face of unexpected illness. Have a read!

Syndetics book coverThe age of absurdity : why modern life makes it hard to be happy
“In a world that demands conspicuous consumption, high-octane relationships and perpetual youth, we can find ourselves tormented by dissatisfaction and anxiety, fearful that everyone is having a better time than we are. This thorny problem of happiness is the subject of Micahel Foley’s entertaining and witty investigation into how fulfillment eludes us as we work, love and grow old in the twenty-first century. Drawing on a wide range of sources, from the earliest writings to the latest research in psychology, Foley sheds ironic light on the absurd nature of contemporary cultural conditioning. In conclusion, rather than denouncing and rejecting our age, he proposes a strategy of not just accepting but embracing modern life – by learning that absurdity is the new sublime.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverTokens of affection : reclaiming your marriage after postpartum depression
“Postpartum depression knocks most couples off their feet and Tokens of Affection serves as a ‘grab bar’ for regaining balance. Written with humour, sensitivity and remarkable insight, Kleiman and Wenzel have created a practical and effective roadmap for couples seeking enhanced connection and stability, not only during the postpartum period but at any phase of their lives.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverPowering through pressure : building resilience for when work gets tough
“We’re all working longer and harder than ever. Greater demands mean more pressure. Too much pressure can easily turn into stress. And stress, if not handled with care, simply leads to more pressure.
Power through pressure will show you how to build resilience, manage your stress, be at your best and still get the job done, even when the pressure is really on.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverMy manager and other animals : evolution and survival in the office jungle
“Deep down we’re just like animals. Part selfish ape, part chaotic ant. But how do the two elements clash and come together in ‘antagonistic harmony’? My manager and other animals examines the evolutionary psychology of work and the complex and fascinating tactics and instincts that we have developed to deal with working life. The idea of the selfish gene encouraged a focus on the ‘selfish’ side of evolution, and the assumption that we should ‘go ape’, and be ego-driven, aggressive, and competitive. More recently, astounding discoveries in human and animal behaviour have shown that, in all animals, cooperation and altruism is more common that we think and more useful than we could imagine.” (syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe confidence code : the science and art of self-assurance– what women should know 
“Broadcast journalists Kay and Shipman (Womenomics) address the self-confidence gap between women and men, consulting a range of experts to determine what female confidence looks like and how it can be achieved. Their sources include WNBA players, successful entrepreneurs, and senior U.S. military, all of whom admit to facing crises in confidence. They visit a neuropsychologist studying rhesus monkeys to explore nature vs. nurture theories on anxiety and the brain’s neurotransmitters that enhance or inhibit confidence. The authors discuss obstacles to self-assurance women face like “negative habitual thought,” internalized pressure to conform to feminine stereotypes, and a “hormonal tendency to avoid risk.” Studies cited suggest women are more critical of their own scientific skills and spatial reasoning, and speak up less in a group setting. Kay and Shipman provide a great blueprint for raising daughters by discouraging perfectionism, noting that perfectionism smothers achievement and is the enemy of confidence. For readers themselves, the authors include techniques for eliminating “negative automatic thoughts” with self-compassion and recommend “quick fixes” like meditation, correct posture, and healthy habits. All of this research, as well as the authors’ own recounting of experiences with doubt in their professional lives, effectively builds into a comprehensive set of ingredients for the confident woman.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe priority list : a teacher’s final quest to discover life’s greatest lessons 
“In fall 2006, high school teacher Menasche, then age 34, was diagnosed with an aggressive and deadly type of brain tumor, glioblastoma multiforme. Despite these challenges, in November 2012 he embarked on a journey-or Vision Quest, as he calls it-to recover his past by reconnecting with former students. Menasche, the son of booksellers, places literature at the center of his thinking and enlists it as a primary means of coping. A successful technique he used with students, the “priority list,” was useful in ranking the importance of different values and provided an effective tool for identify one’s own motivations. His chutzpah and quirky sense of humor more than explain Menasche’s popularity at Coral Reef Senior High School in Miami; after announcing his road trip on Facebook, former students in 50 cities agreed to meet with him and offered hospitality. By reconsidering his priorities, letting others care for him, and giving in to the “beautiful turmoil” of his illness, Menasche has been able to accept the break-up of his marriage and retirement from his job while reaping surprising rewards from his quest. Like Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, this memoir is a rousing testimony to the ways in which, in the face of death, living fully in the present moment becomes possible.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverA private history of happiness : ninety-nine moments of joy from around the world 
“Instead of advocating the latest guide or formula to achieve happiness, A Private History of Happiness presents a wider perspective on everyday moments of joy in different times and cultures – and invites us to discover the happiness in our own lives that can be found right here and now.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverMindfulness at work for dummies
“Learn to: master your mind by making time for mindfulness in your daily routine; use mindfulness to improve your resilience and wellbeing; improve team performance through mindfulness practice.” (Cover)

Syndetics book coverYou are what you imagine
This book will “take you by the hand and guide you chapter-by-chapter through a series of practical exercises, including working with imagery, vizualization, meditation and journaling. Full of fascinating interviews, stories and wonderful insights, this book will give you the tools to help you listen to the whispers of your heart and soul.” (Back cover)

New Personal Development Books

The pursuit of happiness is an all-consuming aspiration for a lot of us. Reflections on what is happiness and how to attain it abound. Whether through meditation, mindfulness, exercise, the practice of positive thoughts or the attainement of excellence, you will find a lot of inspiration and enlightenment from the following titles.

Syndetics book coverPractising happiness / Ruth A. Baer.
“Mindfulness is a way of paying attention that originates in Eastern meditation traditions but is increasingly discussed and practised in Western culture. It is usually defined as focusing one’s complete attention on present-moment experiences in a non-judgemental and accepting way. Buddhist traditions suggest that the cultivation of mindfulness through the practice of meditation reduces suffering and cultivates positive qualities, such as insight, wisdom, compassion and equanimity. In recent years, the Western mental health community has adapted mindfulness meditation practices for use in medical and mental health settings, and several interventions based on mindfulness training are now widely available. Those with the best scientific support include mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). These treatments can be applied to a wide range of problems, disorders and populations and the evidence increasingly supports their efficacy. Practising Happiness is the first self-help book to integrate the wisdom, skills and practices available from the four leading evidence-based mindfulness treatments.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe tell : the little clues that reveal big truths about who we are / Matthew Hertenstein.
“Drawing on poker’s concept of the “tell,” a mannerism that can yield clues to an opponent’s cards, and numerous behavioral studies in which he has been involved, psychologist Hertenstein has produced a study that is lively and engaging yet unremarkable in its conclusion that both environment and genes influence our decision-making. For example, he reveals that we’re able to predict ways an adult might behave by looking at early tells; thus, infants that have insecure attachments to their parents are more likely than those with secure attachments to develop some form of psychopathology later. Various studies have found that facial features can be useful in predicting aggression or lying and cheating: “In carefully controlled studies, men with wider faces were three times more willing to lie than slim-faced men.” In dating, women choose men based on facial attractiveness, symmetry, smell, and masculinity, while men choose “women who are attractive, youthful, and display signs of fertility.” Despite the inconclusiveness of evolutionary psychology, Hertenstein offers much material to ponder and suggests that we embrace the power of these tools for helping us predict behavior, though he also cautions against an overly prescriptive use of these approaches, which could lead to harmful cultural stereotypes. 31 b&w figures.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverMaking hope happen : create the future you want for yourself and others / Shane J. Lopez.
“Draws on research to offer strategies for adopting a high-hope attitude and shaping a successful future, and provides real-life examples of people who create hope and have changed the lives of their communities.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSmarter : the new science of building brain power / Dan Hurley.
“With vivid stories of lives transformed, science journalist Dan Hurley delivers practical findings for people of every age and ability. Along the way, he narrates with acid-tongued wit his experiences as a human guinea pig, road-testing commercial brain-training programs, learning to play the Renaissance lute, getting physically fit, even undergoing transcranial direct current stimulation.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe people you are / Rita Carter.
“In The People You Are, Rita Carter – award-winning science writer and international speaker – offers a new and vital understanding of personality. Rita explains that nearly every one of us is a team of personalities, working together, for the most part, to give the impression of a unified self. We are used to thinking of ourselves as one thing or the other – either introvert or extrovert, say – but things are rarely that simple for most of us. That’s why we sometimes feel like a different person depending on mood, company and surroundings, why we sometimes suffer unaccountable memory lapses, why we buy something we then decide we didn’t want in the first place, or why ‘somebody else’ turns off the alarm clock in the morning.Importantly, The People You Are is also a practical guide to building a happy ‘household’ of personalities, explaining how to identify these different versions of ourselves and how to enable them to co-operate so that we can function successfully in life. The People You Are is both an eye-opening and highly practical account of personality.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHardwiring happiness : the new brain science of contentment, calm, and confidence / Rick Hanson, Ph. D.
Why is it easier to ruminate over hurt feelings than it is to bask in the warmth of being appreciated? Your brain was wired this way when it evolved, primed to learn quickly from bad experiences, but not so much from the good ones. It’s an ancient survival mechanism that turned the brain into Velcro for the negative, but Teflon for the positive. Life isn’t easy, and having a brain wired to take in the bad and ignore the good makes us worried, irritated and stressed, instead of confident, secure and happy. Every day is filled with opportunities to build these strengths inside, but the brain is designed to ignore and waste them. This makes you come down harder on yourself than you do other people, feel inadequate even though you get a hundred things done, and lonely even when support is all around. Dr. Rick Hanson, an acclaimed neuropsychologist and internationally bestselling author, shows us what we can do to override the brain’s default programming. Hardwiring Happiness lays out a simple method that uses the hidden power of everyday experiences to build new neural structures that stick to happiness, love, confidence, and peace. Dr. Hanson’s four steps build a brain strong enough to withstand its ancient negativity bias, allowing contentment and a powerful sense of well-being to become the new normal. In mere minutes each day, we can transform our brains into oases of calm and happiness. We can hardwire in happiness.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMeditation made easy : with step-by-step guided meditations to calm mind, body and soul / Stephanie Brookes.Trying to find a work/life balance can be exhausting, and we are always looking for ways to release tension and relax. Meditation is the perfect solution, and yet people often worry that to meditate properly they need to sit for hours in a contorted position! Written in a down-to-earth, accessible style, Stephanie Brookes sweeps aside these outdated stereotypes, and shows us how to incorporate simple meditation techniques into our busy, non-stop lives. Stephanie has outlined bespoke meditations for a wide range of situations, including meditations for self-healing, meditations for relationships and meditations on the go. Packed with engaging and insightful information on meditation’s well-being benefits, this book will show you how even a very short meditation can reduce stress, ease tension and set you on the path to inner peace.” (From inside cover)

Syndetics book coverHow to think about exercise / Damon Young.
“A look at how and why exercise affects the way we think and feel. It can often seem like existence is split in two: body and mind, flesh and spirit, moving and thinking. In the office or at study we are ‘mind workers’, with superfluous bodies. In the gym we stretch, run and lift, but our minds are idle. Damon Young challenges this idea, revealing how fitness can develop our bodies and minds, together. Exploring exercises and sports with the help of ancient and modern philosophy, he uncovers the pleasures, virtues and big ideas of fitness. By exercising intelligently, we are committing to wholeness: enjoying and enhancing our full humanity.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Dude and the Zen master / Jeff Bridges & Bernie Glassman.
“Actor Bridges engages in a philosophical dialogue with friend and Zen master Glassman, an aeronautical engineer and mathematician in his early years, for an easy, fun read that poses some serious questions. The presentation is light-hearted and analogies are frequent; in discussing a fear of taking action, Glassman invokes “Joe, the centipede with a hundred legs, trying to figure out which leg to move first.” Later, Glassman recommends a musical approach to dealing with change: “Bear witness to the voices and the instruments-whether it’s a jazz band or life-and then move with them, flow with them, because in life you’re always in a band and you’re always swinging.” The Zen influence means a lot of nature imagery, with “Leaves turning, flowers popping open, rain falling on a leaf,” but it’s not cheap spirituality. Both men are involved in programs to promote peace and defeat hunger and they share stories of community artists, Holocaust survivors, and even Bridges’s long-time stand-in. Recognizing that frustration results from expectations, they say, “Work with whatever you have and make something beautiful.” Lest it all get too lofty, Glassman recalls his judo master’s advice: “When you get into trouble, the best judo defense is to run.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFocus : the hidden driver of excellence / Daniel Goleman.
“The ubiquitous reality of technological tools and gadgets in contemporary society can seem to impede the development of a conscious awareness of the world. Goleman, author of several works, including the acclaimed Emotional Intelligence (1995) and Social Intelligence (CH, Oct’07, 45-0941), explores here the issues this loss of awareness can create on an individual and global scale. He looks at the physiology of the brain and the way in which information, experiences, and emotions are tracked and processed. A storyteller at heart, Goleman makes complex scientific material accessible and captivating. He moves from personal to organizational to global in evaluating the need to strengthen “systems awareness” through three kinds of focus–inner, other, and outer–all of which are required for “a well-lived life.” Drawing on work with children and adults in multinational corporations and small inner-city schools, Goleman explores the dynamics of attention training. He draws the reader into a dialogue with critical long- and short-term dilemmas that will require a new type of systems focus if they are to be resolved. Realism is tempered by a positive optimism in this engaging work.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMindful learning : reduce stress and improve brain performance for effective learning / Dr Craig Hassed & Dr Richard Chambers.
“Mindfulness is now being used in educational environments to help students learn more effectively, develop personally, enhance their physical and emotional health, and deal with study and exam-related demands. In ‘Mindful Learning’, practical insights and exercises are given on how to successfully apply mindfulness in the educational setting.” (Syndetics summary)

Health for April

Drugs and addictions? Nothing to do with me? Whether we like to admit it or not, aren’t we all addicted in some way, be it to conventional drugs, caffeine or sugar? Food for thought in this month’s health selection. And among other topics, two new books look at the process of aging from very different perspectives.

Syndetics book coverMarketplace of the marvelous : the strange origins of modern medicine / Erika Janik.
“Despite rampant scientific innovation in nineteenth-century America, traditional medicine still adhered to ancient healing methods, subjecting patients to bleeding, blistering, and induced vomiting and sweating. Facing such horrors, many patients ran with open arms to burgeoning practices that promised new ways to cure their ills. Hydropaths offered cures using “healing waters” and tight wet-sheet wraps. Phineas Parkhurst Quimby experimented with magnets and tried to replace “bad,” diseased thoughts with “good,” healthy thoughts, while Daniel David Palmer reportedly restored a man’s hearing by knocking on his vertebrae. Lorenzo and Lydia Fowler used their fingers to “read” their clients’ heads, claiming that the topography of one’s skull could reveal the intricacies of one’s character. Lydia Pinkham packaged her Vegetable Compound and made a famous family business from the homemade cure-all. And Samuel Thomson, rejecting traditional medicine, introduced a range of herbal remedies for a vast array of woes, supplemented by the curative powers of poetry.” (Abridged from dust jacket)

Syndetics book coverBlockbuster drugs : the rise and decline of the pharmaceutical industry / Jie Jack Li.
“Li (Laughing Gas, Viagra and Lipitor: The Human Stories Behind the Drugs We Use) surveys Big Pharma’s “golden age” with a nostalgic yet thoughtful history of the science and personalities behind drugs that changed the lives of countless patients while making billions of dollars for the companies that brought them to market. The author examines five classes of blockbusters that gave Big Pharma both esteem and fortunes: from Tagament and Prilosec for peptic ulcers to blockbuster allergy treatments such as Benadryl and Claritin, to blood thinners that refined old-line heparin, to the modern conquest of pain with drugs descended from opium-“one of the first medicines for man.” Li also engagingly relates the tales of the human conflict often involved with discovery, like a precipitous one-year drop in profits that resulted from a feud between an American drug company and one of its Canadian counterparts. Drug discovery is now getting more attention from academia as new products wane, Li notes, but he decries Big Pharma’s “merger mania” and its tarnished reputation, especially following Merck’s abrupt withdrawal of anti-inflammatory Vioxx because it led to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes among those taking it. Nevertheless, Li delights in the “creativity, serendipity and perseverance” of big drug discoveries-lessons he hopes may prompt a renaissance in the industry.” (Publisher Weekly)

Caffeinated : how our daily habit helps, hooks and hurts us
“Caffeine is a powerful stimulant. It wakes us up, boosts our mood, and offers the potential to improve both our athletic performance and our intellectual prowess. But did you know that caffeine can play a role in health problems such as obesity and anxiety, depending on how it is delivered to the body? Many purveyors of caffeine-based products have ducked regulation for decades – how have they been allowed to get away with this? And are you aware of how caffeine is used to reinforce buying patterns, sharpening our craving for it?
From the coffee farms of Guatemala to the world’s largest synthetic caffeine factory in China, Murray Carpenter draws on the latest research to reveal the little-known truths about this addictive, largely unregulated drug that we consume every day in coffee, energy drinks, teas, colas, chocolate, and even painkillers.” (From amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverBeating sugar addiction for dummies / by Michele Chevalley Hedge, Dan deFigio.
“A step-by-step guide to kicking the sugar habit and living a healthier, happier life With many Australians and New Zealanders drawing as much as a third of their total caloric intake from sugar and enriched flour, sugar addiction is a rapidly growing problem.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe Pilates Healing Bible
The Pilates Healing Bible is your introduction to the principles of Pilates, bringing together the themes of mindfulness and movement. It includes a range of exercises formulated to work with your busy lifestyle, from routines that can be done at your desk, to floor routines for home, plus a classical Pilates mat routine. Easy to follow instructions are accompanied by step by step images to illustrate each exercise.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverFrench women don’t get facelifts : the secret of aging with style & attitude / Mireille Guiliano.
“Guiliano (French Women Don’t Get Fat), a former chief executive at LVMH, tackles the topic of aging gracefully in her latest advice book. Quite happy to be in her 60s, the author has “a foot in two countries,” with an American husband, a Manhattan apartment, and a home in Paris. She notes that Frenchwomen (with a life expectancy of 84) have an exceptional attitude toward aging-in France, many believe that old age begins at 80. While the average aging Frenchwoman knows how to be “bien dans sa peau [comfortable in her own skin],” the United States suffers from a “youth-obsessed” and “results-oriented” culture. With her charmingly conversational tone, Guiliano walks readers through the mental and physical steps of aging with attitude, covering everything from cosmetics to spiritual life. Readers will find tips on hairstyles, makeup, healthy recipes, and eating tips, as well as general suggestions for nurturing one’s body as if it were a cherished garden. Guiliano maintains that aging has much more to do with how women think of themselves than with facelifts or outward appearances; nevertheless, dressing stylishly and appropriately, making time for sleep, play, love, laughter, and, of course, the occasional glass of wine are all part of the author’s uplifting attitude fix.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverA short guide to a long life / David B. Agus ; with Kristin Loberg ; illustrations by Chieun Ko-Bistrong.
“Taking inspiration from Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, cancer specialist Agus distills advice from his previous book (The End of Illness) into a simple set of rules for living wisely through healthy habits. His series of dos and don’ts advocate cultivating a measure of physical self-awareness in order to quickly note any changes in the body, as a means of preventing and detecting disease; consuming unprocessed, whole foods while avoiding artificial vitamins and supplements; and taking medications like statins and low-dose aspirin prophylactically. Agus also covers commonly accepted practices like maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, getting a flu shot, and complying with your doctor’s advice, while not smoking, getting sunburned, or wearing uncomfortable shoes. The book closes with a checklist of checkups needed in each decade of life-another reminder of the self-knowledge needed for disease prevention. Little line drawings and a conversational, fatherly tone make this guide light and easy to follow, if rather facile, and readers who have already taken Agus as a health guru will love it. Those who still need convincing might do better to read his earlier book, which includes references to the actual research behind his recommendations.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverDo no harm : stories of life, death and brain surgery / Henry Marsh.
If you believe that brain surgery is a precise and exquisite craft, practised by calm and detached surgeons, this griping, brutally honest account will make you think again. With astonishing compassion and candour, one of the country’s leading neurosurgeons reveals the fierce joy of operating, the profoundly moving triumphs, the harrowing disasters, the haunting regrets and the moments of black humour that characterise a brain surgeon’s life. Do No Harm is an unforgettable insight into the countless human dramas that take place in a busy modern hospital. Above all, it is a lesson in the need for hope when faced with life’s most difficult decisions. (Dust jacket)

Syndetics book coverMy age of anxiety : fear, hope, dread and the search for peace of mind / Scott Stossel.
“Stossel, editor of the Atlantic, leads a jittery, searching tour through the most common mental disorder in the world: “a function of biology and philosophy, body and mind, instinct and reason, personality and culture.” As an acutely miserable and anxious 10-year old, Stossel began an early journey through various therapies and medications. His experiences with these treatments doubles as an accidental history of how science, psychotherapy, medicine, and the culture at large have attempted deal with anxiety’s psychological riddle: persistent fear with no “concrete object” of which to be afraid. Stossel’s work features biographical sketches of famous anxiety cases like Charles Darwin and Samuel Johnson, and a rigorous survey of the foundations of anxiety research, from Freud to attachment theory to the “chemical imbalance” model of mental illness, alongside discussions of the biological, neurological, and genetic roots of the condition. Stossel’s journey through his own life is unsparing, darkly funny (a nervous stomach tends to flare up at the worst times, like in front of JFK Jr.), but above all, hopeful. As with many sufferers, Stossel’s quest to find relief is unfinished, but his book relays a masterful understanding of the condition he and millions of others endure.” (Publisher Weekly)

A day in your life – October Health

Understanding our biological legacy is an endlessly fascinating pursuit which we can indulge in this month with a few titles that explore our bodily functions, the history of diseases such as tuberculosis and cancer or our reproductive evolution, and our biological adaptation to an  increasinlgy toxic world. The search for tension release cures and techniques also receive some due attention.

syndetics-lcA day in your life
“Have you ever wondered why it takes so long to get out of bed in the morning? And why you always wake up bursting for a pee? Why that small blackhead has erupted into a hideous red spot overnight? And why stepping into a hot shower gives you goose bumps? Following an average family and their daily routine, Dr Hilary Jones takes you on a bold and captivating journey through the human body, answering these questions and hundreds more. From how our bodies function to why they react in certain ways, Dr Hilary tackles the questions that matter and examines what makes us tick. Fascinating and highly entertaining, A Day in Your Life reveals the incredible nature of the human body.” (Syndetics summary)

syndetics-lcOvercome Depression
“At any time, one in twenty people suffers from severe, clinical depression. If you or someone close to you may be one of them, this is book will be your perfect companion through your depression. No book can claim to ‘cure’ depression, which is a serious illness for which people should seek medical help. What this book does is demystify the illness, help remind you that you’re not alone, provide moving case studies of people who have been in similar situations, and talk you through some practical things you can do to alleviate the effects of depression. It also explains the key treatments, including medication, cognitive behavioural therapy, and alternative therapies.” (Syndetics summary)

syndetics-lcBackache, Stress & Tension
“Back pain, stiff neck, and tension headaches are increasingly common ailments that usually affect those who experience too much stress or too little exercise. Featuring new full-color photos this classic text on back pain returns! Dr. Kraus, a world renowned specialist and private doctor to President John F. Kennedy, explains the causes of back pain and what you can do to prevent and alleviate it. Featuring a new foreword by Robert H. Boyle, Backache, Stress, and Tension is the essential handbook for everyone in today’s overworked, overstressed world. 75 color illustrations.” (from amazon.com)

syndetics-lcSpitting blood
“Few diseases have been more inextricably linked with our past than tuberculosis. Through the medieval period to the modern day, Helen Bynum explores the history and devlopmetn of TB throughout the world, touching on the various discoveries that have emerged about the disease. Although concerns about TB faded away for a while, the disease is now back with a vengeance. Bynum describes the emerging picture from WHO of the difficulties in managing new drug-resistant forms. The story of the disease, it seems, is far from over.” (Adapted from book cover)

syndetics-lcNutrition
“High protein, low-calorie, or no-fat? Atkins, Mediterranean, or Paleo? Pursuing a healthy diet can be exhausting, the advice confusing and contradictory. And with headlines endlessly shouting about shocking obesity rates, killer food allergies and super foods that cure cancer, it’s no wonder we feel overwhelmed. Cutting through the information overload, Sarah Brewer covers all the main debates and brings us back to the facts. From the mechanics of digestion and methods of healthy weight loss to the chemistry of key nutrients and their influence on common medical conditions, this is essentiel reading for anyone interested in making informed decisions about their diet.” (From book cover)

syndetics-lcBack in balance
“Helping you to discover how your posture and movements may be having detrimental effect on your health, this guide offers simple but effective ways of reducing muscular tension and stress on the bones and joints – and making your life pain free.” (From book cover)

syndetics-lcMindfulness – a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world
“Based on cognitive therapy principles, Mindfulness reveals a set of simple yet powerful practices that you can incorporate into daily life to help break the cycle of anxiety, stress, unhappiness and exhaustion. It helps promote a genuine joie de vivre; the kind of happiness that gets into your bones and allows you to meet the worst that life throws at you with new courage.” (adapted from book cover)

syndetics-lcThe Cancer chronicles – Unlocking medicine’s deepest mystery
“When the woman he loved was diagnosed with a metastatic cancer, science writer George Johnson embarked on a journey to learn everything he could about the disease and the people who dedicate their lives to understanding and combating it. What he discovered is a revolution under way – an explosion of new ideas about what cancer really is and where it comes from. In a provocative and intellectually vibrant exploration, he takes us on an adventure through the history and recent advances of cancer research that will challenge everything you thought you knew about the disease.” (Book cover)

syndetics-lcHow we do it
“Despite our seemingly endless fascination with sex and parenting, the origins of our reproductive lives remain a mystery. Why are a quarter of a billion sperm cells needed to fertilize one egg? Are women really fertile for only a few days each month? How long should women breast-feed? In [this book], primatologist Robert Martin draws on forty years of research to locate the origins of everything from sex cells to baby care, and to reveal what’s really natural when it comes to making and raising babies. He acknowledges that although it’s not realistic to reproduce like our ancestors did, there are surprising consequences to behavior we take for granted, such as bottle feeding, cesarean sections, and in vitro fertilization.” (from Amazon.com)

syndetics-lcEvolution in a toxic world
“With BPA in baby bottles, mercury in fish, and lead in computer monitors, the world has become a toxic place. But as Emily Monosson demonstrates in her groundbreaking new book, it has always been toxic. When oxygen first developed in Earth’s atmosphere, it threatened the very existence of life: now we literally can’t live without it. According to Monosson, examining how life adapted to such early threats can teach us a great deal about today’s (and tomorrow’s) most dangerous contaminants. While the study of evolution has advanced many other sciences, from conservation biology to medicine, the field of toxicology has yet to embrace this critical approach.
In Evolution in a Toxic World, Monosson seeks to change that. She traces the development of life’s defense systems—the mechanisms that transform, excrete, and stow away potentially harmful chemicals—from more than three billion years ago to today. Beginning with our earliest ancestors’ response to ultraviolet radiation, Monosson explores the evolution of chemical defenses such as antioxidants, metal binding proteins, detoxification, and cell death.” (From amazon.com)