Sunday, March 30, 2008

Proceedings of the 6th Rocky Mountain Region Disaster Mental Health Conference

George W. Doherty, an LPC in Wyoming and the president of the Rocky Mountain Region Disaster Mental Health Institute, has put together the most important papers on managing the impact of disasters on the mental health and behavior of people, especially those who provide emergency services during and shortly after disasters. Published by the Rocky Mountain DMH Institute Press (March, 2008), this edition serves the important purpose of exploring the hazardous effects of disasters on human behavior and on family and society at large.

The papers printed in George Doherty’s book deal with the main issue of disaster impact on mental/behavioral health from different angles and with respect to different groups of population. First responders, emergency workers, and soldiers are always at a higher risk of developing mental/behavioral abnormalities that would endanger their individual and family life. But many other categories of people are at a higher risk of suffering from disasters, tourists, for example, who need special measures of security on account of both natural hazards and terrorist traumas. Then there are the senior citizens for whom old age, illness, abusive treatment, and neglect form a constant trauma without any manifest disastrous situation to be noted by mental health institutes. Managing the stress of all these people is inevitable for the definition of a healthy society.

The target audience of George Doherty’s publication is broad: all mental health professionals, disaster management officers, and local policy makers who have anything to do with a better quality of life for the citizens. Some papers would be of great interest to all readers like Jamie Egolf’s Flyboy’s Daughter and John G. Jones’ The Forgotten Trauma Victims: America’s Elderly. Generally, any educated person caring about an improved quality of life can benefit from this publication of the Rocky Mountain Region Disaster Mental Health Institute.

ISBN: 978-1932690569

Book Details

Website of the Institute:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Never Better

After the death of her husband Eugene F. Connolly, school counselor and teacher Sally A. Connolly sensed the need to reorganize her life around positive activity and resetting the parameters of life. Her experience of a new life as a woman after the loss of spouse has been chronicled in her latest book Never Better: All Things Considered (Connolly Associates, Massachusetts, 2007). The book is a collection of her short, first-person entries that record her transition from wife to widow and to a single senior. ‘Everything’ considered in Never Better serves to make people, particularly of families and community, educate on potential threats to their health, safety, and the overall quality of life.

Mrs. Connolly’s approach to life as a single senior citizen is very mature. She places high importance on family, education, and belongingness to a peace-loving community. In her usual life, she sees so many things that guarantee a happy and satisfied life; things that are accessible to everyone and the only reason they are not cherished with great enthusiasm is our way of looking at them as ‘routine’. By stepping inside the day-to-day matters as a person belonging to a place and people, life can be filled with joy and positive activity. Never Better radiates that inspiration to make our thinking blend into the fullness of our lives.

Sally Connolly’s fondness for the written word filters through the passages of her book not only in her own writing but in the pearls of wisdom, coming from eminent figures in literature, included in the book. The book’s cover and vignettes reflect a pleasing liveliness that transcends the values of a society obsessed with money-making and self-seeking individualism. The author’s individual voice instead carries all the flair of living usefully and serving a noble purpose. While not offering any expressly stated guidelines, Never Better is more like a picture that shows the beauty of living a good life and sharing it with others.

ISBN: 978-0977265329


Author Website

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Random Thoughts

Letting one’s thoughts ramble is sometimes a delightful venture. Meaning and order may arise from the apparent randomness, like the Brownian motion of particles that determine the temperature of an object. Howard Wu’s anthology Random Thoughts (Trafford Publishing, British Columbia, 2008) is an instance of creating meaning through randomness of thought and content.

The eight entries chosen for Random Thoughts vary in genres and subject mater, hence the complier’s choice of the word ‘random’. The structure of all pieces, except one however, is fairly consistent. The mode is inquisitive and disposed toward criticism, though situations vary widely from the exploration of identity (Deep Thoughts) to an adventurous quest (The World After) and the authoritative control of behavior against innovation (im in punctuation prison).

What makes Random Thoughts unique is the fact that all the entries have been published nearly unedited. The typos and grammatical errors are there and they speak for the book’s gist: the need for sense precedes that of formal accuracy in linguistic expression. Lloyd Hudson Frye’s im in punctuation prison expressly calls for a refinement of thought that would aim at the greater purpose of meaning. Howard Wu is to be credited for putting together a nice collection of thoughts, all random but well worth considering.

ISBN: 9781425162382


Tuesday, March 18, 2008


One thing a good inspirational book achieves is making its readers realize the worth of life and the state of living just in normal good health-something we often take for granted. Canadian author Shireen Jeejeebhoy’s biographical account of Judy Taylor, titled Lifeliner: The Judy Taylor Story (iUniverse Inc, Nebraska, 2007), is a recent instance of personal inspiration with the life and courage of a woman whose medical treatment for severe gastroenterological damage was about to revolutionize the medical technique of intravenous feeding.

Being the daughter of Dr. Khursheed Jeejeebhoy, Shireen Jeejeebhoy met Judy Taylor while still a young girl. Back then, in the early 1970s, Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) was a medical strategy in its infancy, used diffidently by physicians for keeping seriously ill people alive only for a short time. Gastroenterologist Dr. Khursheed Jeejeebhoy decided to use TPN as the alternative mode of nutrition to sustain Judy Taylor-the woman who suddenly had become a victim to a horrible blood clot that destroyed her innards, making eating impossible and inviting death in the form of infection and starvation. Lifeliner is the true story of what happened in Judy’s life as she fought death with the help of Dr. Jeejeebhoy. By staying alive and functional on TPN for over twenty years, Judy became the first successful ‘lifeliner’, a source of hope for more patients like her, and Dr. Jeejeebhoy practically became the father of Total Parenteral Nutrition.

Lifeliner is more than an inspiring biography; it’s a book about the developmental course of TPN as well as a case study of the emotional aftermath of seriously ill people, like Judy, to their families and relationships. Shireen’s pen has all the force of a great storyteller and the artistic skills of reviving a past scene in its most original form. She shows us the situation, taking us to the time and place of the event without throwing in a single unnecessary word. Choosing the present tense for telling Judy’s story, the book gets over the sense of temporal gap that so often interposes between the reader and the events.

There are many medical terms in Lifeliner which the lay reader may have to grapple with and so the author has taken care to add a glossary of the difficult terms at the end of the book. All material is well-researched and a bibliography of relevant works makes the book a complete guide to TPN for interested readers. Lifeliner is for all audiences, and especially a must read for people whose lives have been touched by serious illness. This book will give them hope and courage, helping them to appreciate life better.

ISBN: 9780595445448

Author/Book Website

Judy Taylor Video

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Geochemistry of Marine Sediments

David J. Burdige’s Geochemistry of Marine Sediments (Princeton Univeristy Press, New Jersey/Oxfordshire, 2006) is a comprehensive publication on all the components of marine sediments and every significant process involved in their derivation, transport, lithification, and diagenesis. The book cruises through the marine environment with the eyes of a detail-oriented observer, revealing the surface and pelagic (deep sea) geochemical processes and the mechanisms by which they contribute to the prospective shape, composition, and other properties of marine sediments.

Of particular interest and importance in Professor Burdige’s book is his treatment of the role of organic geochemical components throughout the sedimentation and post-depositional (diagenetic) alteration of marine sediments. In a broader sense, this approach bridges the gap between the inanimate (inorganic) elements of our planet and the animate (organic) components of the earth. Marine organisms, fluid media, and sediments forming/settling in oceans are seen, perhaps for the first time, in a detailed continuum of physiochemical interaction. Not only does this probe into the marine geochemical environment build an invaluable basis of fundamental knowledge about the subject but the book also comes as a guide for the explorers of fossil fuels (the matured products of organic matter).

Geochemistry of Marine Sediments is exhaustively illustrated with figures, tables, mathematical equations, schematic representations of the relation between various components and processes operating in the marine realm, and many profile diagrams for depicting the relation of factors s involved in the processes relating to the sedimentation and diagenesis of marine sediments. Most impressive is Professor Burdige’s complete list of references at the end of the book-a great resource for the research-oriented reader in the relevant field(s) of study-geology, chemistry, and biology. For all graduate students, and above, this book is a self-contained course in both basic and advance marine geochemistry.

ISBN: 978-0-691-09506-6


Author Website

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Humanizing Madness

The 21st century is frequently experiencing intellectual challenges to several established theories in science. Lately, seasoned Australian psychiatrist Dr. Niall McLaren has put the practice of psychiatry to a hard challenge by showing its lack of any sound theory of mind. In his book Humanizing Madness (Future Psychiatry Press, Michigan, 2007), Dr. McLaren criticizes the arbitrariness of psychiatrc treatments based on a crude reductionist view that fails to satisfy the criteria of scientific accuracy and exists more of a convention than a scientifically legitimate practice. He also attempts to fill the void of understanding that surrounds mental activity, its biologic overlap, and its relation to psychiatric problems, by proposing his biocognitive theory of mind.

The need for sound theoretical foundations in psychiatry has been around since the very start of psychiatric practice. The main problem has not only been the absence of a reliable model of how the mind works but also of a reification of personal beliefs that closed the doors of progress in psychiatry by authoritatively dictating whatever felt like intellectually (and personally) rewarding; a case of easing off at the expense of the self-correcting approach in science. Thus Watson’s behaviorist approach in explaining all human behavior is as immune to objective analysis as a zealot’s fideism. Dr. McLaren raises serious doubts about any/all hardwired demarcations of scientific concepts, illustrating through his autopsy of the psychiatric system with the lancet of logic.

Humanizing Madness covers more than one aspect of the psychological and philosophical underpinnings of psychiatry. It is a brief history of the evolution of psychiatry, a critique of the mainstream psychiatric practice and its social/philosophical implications, a critical assessment of the treatment approaches toward mental disorders, and also a thought-provoking analysis of the possibilities that lie in the way of mental health’s future as a genuine science. Dr. McLaren’s genius shows in his out-of-the box approach to redefine scientific concepts more flexibly without compromising major scientific paradigms, rules of logic, and common sense all at once. As he proceeds with his analysis of mental theories, some of the presumably well-defined concepts like consciousness, self, and (above all) mind appear to be no more than loosely nucleated layers around a mere void.

Dr. McLaren’s writing is clear, nearly free of jargon, and easy-to-understand. Nevertheless, Humanizing Madness is not likely to amuse the lay reader. It is a work of scholarly caliber, particularly focused on psychiatry and befitting the reading interest of those interested in psychiatry in particular and in the philosophy of science at large.


Author Website

ISBN: 1932690395