Book Review - Getting Past Your Past
A new book by Dr. Francine Shapiro offers techniques to help readers get beyond the trauma or setbacks caused by memories of their past. The book, Getting Past Your Past, Rodale, 2012, starts by telling readers that every experience in their lives has been a building block to their inner world.
Those building blocks govern our reactions to everything and every person we encounter. The author writes, “When we “learn” something, the experience is physically stored within networks of brain cells called “neurons. These networks actually form our unconscious mind, determining how our brain interprets the world around us and governing how we feel from moment to moment.”
Shapiro uses the remainder of the book to discuss a therapy that has been practiced by “70,000 clinicians worldwide.” The practice is called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). According to the book, over 20 million people have had a positive response to the treatment.
The author goes on to discuss posttraumatic stress disorder (PSTD). Such emotional distress is a result of major accidents, physical or sexual abuse, combat or natural disasters. Her research has shown that many people can have the same symptoms of PSTD such as feeling anxious, fearful, jumpy or shut off from others, thoughts we can’t get out of our heads, guilt or disturbing dreams.
The book examines topics such as finding out who we really are, how the mind, brain and body are interlinked, finding a safe or calm place, blame, searching for the source and it’s never too late among many other interesting insights. There are also many techniques included to help get hold of some those negative thoughts so that we can reprogram them into more positive thinking and actions.
While the author does build a case for the success of EMDR, she recommends to only practice it with training professionals. She does define several techniques in the book including indentifying the negative cognitions, identifying the memories, floatback technique, a TICES log (trigger, image, cognition, sensation), the spiral technique and the breathing shift technique.
There are a few clinical terms that really enhance the book instead of burden the reader. All in all, the book is a good read and I’d recommend reading it to those that are on a self-exploration mission. The book does provide many stop and think moments that the reader may or man not enjoy depending on the memories that may be released.