Anatomy of the Soul

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Why would King David ask God to search his heart—his mind? After all, we do it all the time. Well, according to Dr. Curt Thompson, it could be that the king was aware that his mind can deceive him. Says Dr. It often conspires to hide the truth the depth of our emotion, memory, and relational pattern, as well as the reality of a God who loves us beyond belief from ourselves and others.

Thompson, a psychiatrist, possesses a deep understanding of emotions and the wiring of the human brain. He is able to present some of the major themes of Christianity in a fresh way that we can use to deepen our worship and relationships with God and each other. Take, for example, the theme of community. Instead, we are more likely to think of Him as some abstract, ethereal being somewhere out there in the cosmos. Anatomy of the Soul is organized along two pathways. First, Dr.

Thompson shows how we can live a life of joy and deep fulfillment by paying attention, being aware of our memories, developing healthy attachments, and forming wholesome connections. The second pathway is about discoveries in neuroscience which point us to the Creator and what these findings reveal about our relationship with the God of the universe and one another. I strongly recommend Anatomy of the Soul as a good reference material for a cross-section of people.

I found the writing repetitious and unnecessarily wordy and complex. The author made up new, Christian-sounding terms for some old, proven ideas I've heard elsewhere and then put in a lot of filler "this really changed this guy's life, so keep reading to learn how! To give credit where due, his "Memory and the Brain" and "Implicit Memory" sections in chapter 5 were concise, helpful in nature, and clearly showed how how-the-brain-works directly related to changing behavior.

Chapter 7 also had some interesting information on child development. However, I didn't like how the author often said "this is what this Christian term or phrase really means" when it didn't and how he often quoted verses from the Bible out of context or with incorrect context so that they sounded connected to the point he was making.

God also came across as limited in power and knowledge. In chapter 4, the author portrayed God as being pleasantly surprised that Moses is curious about his burning bush trick and so decides to reward Moses by talking with him. He decided to talk with him. Also, "[God:] does not seem to be in a hurry to clean up our personal scandals, much less the world at large, all by himself.


He is looking for serious partners. The first partner, Adam, failed miserably, as did several others. Some partnered more helpfully than others, but only when Jesus came did we see what partnering with God really looks like We have been invited to add our chapters and verses, to be coauthors in this Story" pages And " And page implied that, when Jesus was a child, he behaved in ways not pleasing to God but God was pleased with Jesus anyway. That God is always pleased with us and feeling that makes us act in ways pleasing to him p.

And "[Jesus':] deep awareness of God did not happen automatically. In fact, no one has ever worked harder at knowing and being known by God than Jesus" p. And so on. He repeatedly said that when people tell you "the Holy Spirit will transform you" that's of no practical help, but we can perfect ourselves using this knowledge of how our brains work. From other statements the author made, it appears that he believes God created using evolution--letting creatures perfect themselves over time from imperfection--so I guess he's just being consistent in his thinking: that God intends for and enables humans to perfect themselves.

The author did credit God with hinting about this information in the Bible and using His knowledge about how our brain works in His interactions with us. But the author apparently doesn't see God as personally working the transformation, just using this transformation process. The author encouraged reading the narrative and poetry portions of the Bible.

He also suggested meditation--closing your eyes and visualizing God saying how much He loves you and is pleased with you--and movement exercises such as yoga and tai chi to enhance your awareness of your body's sensations and breathing. He briefly mentions prayer which promotes an awareness of God's constant presence , fasting to put us in touch with our bodies , reading and writing to integrate the brain , and confession to create open, trusting relationships. I don't recommend this book due to my problems with his theology. I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.

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View all 3 comments. Jun 27, Josh Morgan rated it it was amazing. Anatomy of the Soul by Curt Thompson, MD, a psychiatrist intrigued me as it lands squarely in the middle of the integration of modern mental health science and spirituality. This is the first book I received from the Tyndale Blog Network for review that particularly lands in my area of expertise for those who don't know, I'm a licensed psychologist with an undergrad degree in Religious Studies.

What I appreciate about Thompson's work is that it addresses the neuroscientific findings related to relationships, including relationship with God. For those who have studied neuroscience or psychobiology, some of the material is clearly redundant, but I thought Thompson did a very nice job of summarizing the biology of the brain to help people understand the brain's basics.

And then he did not simply relegate all of relationships and spirituality to random brain firing. He acknowledges that there are biological correlates to spiritual experiences.

Anatomy of the Soul: Surprising Connections between Neuroscience and Spiritual Practices That Can…

And that does not bother him. I have not seen any satisfying texts that really engage both hard neuroscience and orthodox theology in such a way that Thompson has done. In fact, he has helped me reconcile information from both sides that often seem irreconcilable. It's not that he really says anything new after all, "there's nothing new under the sun" : , but he combines ideas and makes connections in ways I have not previously encountered. Such connections are the core of creativity and genius.

He does make some overstatements about the ability of techniques to quickly make changes to life. Or at least these are implied, like his subtitle: "Surprising connections between neuroscience and spiritual practices that can transform your life and relationships. Rather, it is more of analysis, connecting spiritual practices to biological changes in the brain, which lead to spiritual transformation, and such transformation leads one back to the beginning of more spiritual practices.

I have worked my way very slowly through the book because I wasn't simply willing to read it quickly and for a cursory review.

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Thompson has made some excellent arguments that will hopefully be the basis for some future blog posts. I may even use the tome in a class or two I may teach Again, the content itself is not particularly new; it's the connections. And Thompson engages in excellent process, not willing to ignore the struggles of ambiguity and Truth.

In fact, one of the best quotes from his book is right at the beginning, p. When I no longer trust, I am no longer open to being known, to relationship, to love. It is important to land on the side of trust. Short Review: Anatomy of the Soul is broadly divided into two parts.

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The science and background about neurology, trauma, attachment, emotions, the prefrontal cortex, etc. Because I have read pretty widely on spiritual direction and discipleship and I have a background in social work, I didn't find the section section as engaging as the first, but I do think it was helpful in Short Review: Anatomy of the Soul is broadly divided into two parts.

Because I have read pretty widely on spiritual direction and discipleship and I have a background in social work, I didn't find the section section as engaging as the first, but I do think it was helpful in pointing out areas where pastors and spiritual directors and counselors should investigate the neuroscience for their own practice. Jul 29, Lance Hill rated it it was amazing.

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Jan 09, Jeff Hobday rated it really liked it. Excellent read on how our life experiences affect the mind and how that shapes our spiritual lives. As Thompson explains, it goes the other way too; our spiritual practices prayer, scripture reading, fasting, confession shape how our minds develop. This book is not overly academic or technical -- I haven't studied biology since freshman year of high school, and I could understand the science.

It's full of anecdotes from his experience as a counselor and psychiatrist, as well as insightful read Excellent read on how our life experiences affect the mind and how that shapes our spiritual lives. It's full of anecdotes from his experience as a counselor and psychiatrist, as well as insightful readings of biblical texts.

The ultimate message is that the spiritual disciplines have the potential to "renew our minds" and transform our relationships. Nov 17, Eileen rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , christian. Great book, really opened out my horizons. The psychiatrist author explains how the brain develops in infants and children, how babies need to interact with adults in order for the brain to fully mature.

Explains what the different hemispheres of the brain do and suggests ways to integrate the two halves. All from a Christian perspective. I will definitely read this book again, at least once.

Anatomy of the Soul (RJS)

A sure book to read if you want to understand yourself. I was very impressed with this book and writer. The work that has been discovered about the brain is breathtaking. I am going to read it again in order let what I read stick to my mind. Mar 26, Chris Schutte rated it really liked it.

Science Of The Soul - Documentary Feature

A creative proposal connecting spiritual formation with insights from modern neuroscience. His vision of the Christian life as one of "justice, mercy, and love" is deeply compelling. Apr 19, Lou rated it really liked it Shelves: neuroscience , christian-non-fiction , science. This was very informative. May 07, Beverly rated it it was amazing. It was a brain-wrecking process to read such a book! It entails processes from our childhoods that might have had affected our attitudes and behaviors, perception of God and of life, and even in our interpersonal relationships.

If your an advocate to mental health, self-growth and development, it's a must-read. Apr 05, Nick Richtsmeier rated it it was amazing. This book is incredibly important. With precision and grace Thompson connects the dots between mindfulness, current understandings of neuroscience and the historical spiritual practices of Christian faith to help us understand what it really takes to overcome of formational environments and their limitations. Standing perfectly at the intersection of embodiment theology, scientific research, psychotherapy and Christian discipleship, I devoured every word.

I find myself near daily inte This book is incredibly important. I find myself near daily integrating a thought I gained from this book into conversation or another book I'm reading.