Some useful health advice can be found amid the plethora of suggestions.

STRESS MAKES YOU FAT, WRINKLED AND DEAD

A debut book pinpoints the myriad sources of stress in modern life and offers tips for coping with it.

Ben-Joseph identifies himself as a naturopath and healer; Lewis trained with him in manual physical therapy in the 1970s. The authors previously co-wrote a radio script, The 6 Ways Stress Can Kill You. This book’s title suggests a practical medical guide whereas the contents actually veer more toward holistic self-help. But the title does faithfully reflect the tone: familiar, even jokey, and reader-friendly—with plenty of exclamation points, phrases emphasized in boldface, and stock images to vividly illustrate the material. Initially, the problem is that the work doesn’t seem to be sure what it wants to be: readers must wade through 50 pages of florid meditations on the human condition (“For each of us, existing on this blue-white sphere called earth, the wheel of life continues its constant turn”), metaphorical thoughts on the seasons, and generic advice on nutrition and hygiene before getting to the matter at hand in Chapter 4. From here on, the authors break down the causes of stress into digestible sections on everything from moving problems to foot ailments. They helpfully list the effects of physical stress on bodily systems, but the suggestions are all too basic: for example, label your moving boxes; buy appropriate footwear; try earplugs. Chapter 8, disingenuously titled “Helpful Hints,” is nothing but a one-page plug for Ben-Joseph’s “Prime Longevity” supplement. Not until the 12th chapter do readers get the expected straightforward techniques for dealing with stress, such as visualization. This section plus the one on two- to three-minute exercises to alleviate stress are the most valuable, hands-on ones. But the dietary tips, again, seem self-explanatory, or too niche—perhaps echoing Jewish guidelines? (No pork or crustaceans, for instance.) A sex education lesson serves no obvious purpose, and there is some decidedly odd wording that detracts from the authors’ arguments, like “Monitor how many chews you perform with each mouthful” and “Why is the lure of dangerous men that attracts females.”

Some useful health advice can be found amid the plethora of suggestions.

Pub Date: July 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5246-9242-1

Page Count: 251

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2017

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SECRET SEX LIVES

A YEAR ON THE FRINGES OF AMERICAN SEXUALITY

Investigative journalist Spencer expands her own sexual boundaries through the exploration of others’.

“Worn out from all the tragedy” of a decade penning true crime books, Spencer (Wages of Sin, 2010) engagingly steers readers through the wonderful world of contemporary sexuality. The pensive, unmarried Texan considers herself sexually ignorant, doesn’t particularly like to be touched (never has), and comes from a religious family who shunned the idea of crafting a memoir exploring the sex lives of random Americans. Surprisingly, the project transformed her from lonely, sexually timid 50-something into a woman budding with intimate possibilities. Posting a succession of inquisitive online personal ads probing responders’ bedroom activities, Spencer unleashes a battalion of sexed-up soldiers eager to interact and share prurient and often tabooed sex-drenched adventures. Among her profiles are a few hypersexual females, a flirtatious adulterer half her age, horny swingers looking for “more on the side,” a parade of randy bisexuals, phone-sex enthusiasts and a cross-dressing father of two. As Spencer exposes the flesh behind the fantasy, she incrementally reveals aspects of her own personal life, which frequently saves the text from dissolving into a blur of America’s hot and bothered. Eventually, the book becomes a psychological science project, as the author experimented, challenged her beliefs, and arrived at epiphanies far different from her opening declaration that “it’s a lot safer to laugh about sex than have sex.” Both a celebration of sexuality and, for the author, an embracive awakening to it. 

 

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-425-21936-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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An ambitiously original but uncorroborated theory.

PSYCHOCONDUCTION

A sweeping new theory that puts forward a way to rejuvenate a damaged brain without using surgical or pharmacological methods. 

Clinical psychologist Litvin (Litvin’s Code, 2011) proposes what he calls a bold “new neuropsychological discovery” about ways in which a chronically underperforming brain may be improved with carefully managed mental exercises. According to the author, the brain processes information via an internal mapping system, in which received data is directed to a “book of addresses.” When the brain malfunctions, he says, it’s largely the result of damaged complex brain cells receiving “incomplete or distorted requests,” which results in the improper distribution of information. However, he asserts that the brain has a kind of organic plasticity that allows it to respond to willfully enacted repairs. Litvin argues that simple cells in the body can be stimulated in a way that either rejuvenates or replace damaged complex cells; this stimulation can overcome what he calls “neuropsychological barriers” and result in the release of a newly “balanced amount of brain chemicals”—a vague formulation that typifies the author’s overall mode of discussion. This is achieved, he says, by activating the brain’s response to various stimuli in quick succession, including tactile, visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and olfactory stimuli. Litvin calls this theory of repair “psychoconduction,” and he includes a detailed series of mental exercises that ask readers to translate simple mathematical equations into various modes of expression; for example, he shows how a visual pattern may be translated into a knocking sound, or a clamping of a hand. Litvin has discussed psychoconduction in a number of other works, but here, he furnishes his most thorough and systematic explanation of it, largely in accessible, nontechnical language. However, this volume also replicates the principal vices of the others: It’s remarkably general, and it doesn’t present any empirical, experimental evidence for its claims. Also, Litvin’s promises regarding the scope of its application are equally unsubstantiated, as well as implausible; he claims, for example, that the exercises can remedy dyslexia, anxiety, attention-deficit disorder, anger issues, and even help people who have hallucinations. It’s never clear how it’s all possible, and the author offers no solid proof. 

An ambitiously original but uncorroborated theory. 

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4669-1254-0

Page Count: 129

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2019

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