A psychologist’s debut memoir explores the intersection of science and spirituality.
Born in 1947, Alne grew up in Gerritsen Beach, a bucolic section of Brooklyn, New York. His mother suffered from poor health and she turned to alcohol for relief from her pain—a self-destructive pattern that the author unfortunately emulated later as a teenager. Alne struggled with an addiction to drugs—particularly codeine cough syrup, barbiturates, and LSD—but finally kicked the habit and attended Brooklyn College at night. There, he discovered that he loved learning, and that he had a natural aptitude for it. He graduated magna cum laude with a degree in psychology in 1974 and eventually earned a doctorate. He found work as a school psychologist for the New York City Board of Education, but was hobbled—and emotionally scarred—by an unprovoked attack by a group of students in 1991. After a protracted struggle with herniated discs, he was hired to treat patients for the Brooklyn Workers Compensation Board. After he suffered a stroke, he scoured the latest literature on both science and spirituality to discover alternative sources of healing and guidance. Much of this book is devoted to cataloging these intellectual peregrinations; the author offers his views on contemporary physics, biology, and cosmology, which he says have created new portals into understanding the nature of the paranormal. Later chapters discuss the power of faith and prayer as agents of healing and assert that their efficacies are supported by science. This is an eclectic memoir that combines not only autobiographical remembrances, but also stand-alone essays on such subjects as health care and the limitations of a materialistic conception of man. The prose is lucid and anecdotal throughout (“Science is answering religious questions that we have been asking for thousands of years”), even when discussing the latest trends in quantum mechanics. However, the book as a whole is wide-ranging but fractured in its structure, as it tries to do too much in too few pages. That said, it’s a delightfully eccentric look at the potential comity between religion and science from someone who has respect for both.
Deep, thoughtful reflections on overcoming personal crisis.