A successful and detailed guide to using mindfulness to heal and redirect negative emotions.


Prescriptions Without Pills


In this self-improvement title, Heitler (The Power of Two Workbook: Communication Skills for A Strong & Loving Marriage, 2003, etc.) explores several major psychological problems, including anger, fear, anxiety, and addictive behaviors.

Rather than promoting a mindset or ideology that promises to absolve the reader of these problems like other self-help books seem to do, Heitler, a psychologist, continuously presents a theme of options. For every situation, there are choices, and for every emotional state, the author explains, there are directions in which a person can take that feeling. Heitler focuses on the “hand map” of five alternatives: fight, fold, freeze, flee, or Find a Solution. What makes this book different is the way it doesn’t just provide solutions: it maps out ways to arrive at a healthy selection and methods to build better emotional habits. For example, an exercise called “that was then, this is now” asks the reader to picture a negative response and the place in which it is “felt” in the body. Then the reader is asked to visualize an earlier time, perhaps in childhood, when that same emotion was felt. Heitler suggests that the reader analyze what has changed— such as feeling safer now or more powerless then. She recommends analyzing how the older self would console the younger self, if able to revisit the experience as a third party. This technique is common in hypnosis but asks the reader to rewrite old pathways of negative beliefs that continue to interfere with a healthy adult life. Heitler deftly weaves in anecdotes from sports psychology, marriage counseling, and addiction recovery counseling to illustrate the ways individuals can work through their negative emotions and arrive at positive outcomes—without the use of medication. The book’s greatest strength is in its specificity: the author spends time unpacking the particulars of depression, anxiety, and anger, asking the reader to reframe them and toss out old ways of viewing these emotions. For example, while she portrays anger as a “red light” that necessitates a full stop before proceeding, anxiety is a “yellow light” that should slow a person down long enough to assess the condition but not stop the individual from taking action.

A successful and detailed guide to using mindfulness to heal and redirect negative emotions.  

Pub Date: July 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63047-812-4

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Morgan James Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2016

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...


Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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