It’s the summer of reading here at Momentous Institute, and we asked Dr. Laura Vogel, director of our therapeutic services team to tell us what she’s reading. She recommends one classic and one new book for anyone interested in learning more about mental health.
The one I always reference is Bruce Perry – The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog. This is not super original, and everyone makes fun of me, but I love it. It was the first book that helped me really understand the neurological and biological components of trauma responses and how the field must evolve to heal the body and the brain. I know there were other books prior to this that had covered the same material, but the way in which he connected it to real people created that “ah ha” moment for me.
I am in a book club and The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks was our book last month. This is a book about Elyn Saks’ experience of living with and managing schizophrenia. As a mental health provider who works with children, it was helpful to read her reflections on her early experiences with the illness and how this evolved as she aged. The author is absolutely a remarkable woman, and the story highlights what is possible when one has access to high quality care. For example, there were long periods of her life when she was attending therapy 5 times/week. Unfortunately, this is not something to which many; even the affluent, would have access in today’s world. Professor Saks is also a lawyer whose career has been dedicated to expanding the rights of those with mental health diagnoses such as rights to privacy, to refuse treatment, etc. I didn’t know this history of the field and the fact that many of these laws connect back to her deeply personal experiences inside hospitals, gave a whole new meaning to these rights; which have not always existed.