I wore this visor everyday in Miami because it was sunny. But I noticed something: people seemed to be treating me differently.  They smiled brighter and wider and looked like maybe we were sharing a joke. I pointed this out to Daniel: “They don’t think I’m some uptight WASP when I’m wearing this hat?!”

The reality is of course, that’s it’s a Japanese Maple leaf that looks suspiciously like another leaf, from a brand our friend owns called Boast. And the other reality is that I don’t partake, and I probably am a little high-strung. (Or even that little is an understatement. One employment test I took some years back showed me as having basically zero tolerance to stress. Is that even possible while still being alive and not like spontaneously combusting?)

I’ve known for a long time I have a tendency towards anxious or bad feelings, and I try not to make this part of my identity: no therapy, no self-labeling, etc. When I’m going to an uncomfortable spell I get books that might help and read them.

So, in a recent bout of book-reading, I’ve been focused on classics of the genre published in the eighties or nineties.  And I found this stunner: bibliotherapy* is apparently a scientifically proven treatment for depression or anxiety that is as, or more, effective than drugs and therapy. Plus, it’s the price of a paperback novel and has no side effects.

I feel like this is scifi it’s so thrilling and so accurately supports my world-view: there truly is this alternative universe where books are better than any other course, they can teach you how to think, act, and feel. They can teach you how to learn even if they can’t teach the subject matter (languages, swimming.)

*Bibliotherapy: from Feeling Good by David D. Burns, 1999 edition, from the introduction. Also at wiki

* Another amazing factoid: “…the full heat of emotion is very brief, lasting just seconds rather than minutes, hours, or days….it would be maladaptive for an emotion to capture the brain and body for a long time…when feelings persist, it is usually as moods.” from Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman, quoting Paul Ekman’s work. (Ekman was the inspiration for Lie To Me, the television series.) The idea is, the emotion lasts two seconds, but it creates a chemical surge that we attempt to logically justify. Just remember that next time you are arguing with your spouse and have lost the plot.

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Posted by:Brook DeLorme

5 replies on “Bibliotherapy

      1. Really anything you land your hands on. Some people react differently and are not as excited about his work as I am, but high-strung types usually love him.
        I started with The Gambler, White Nights (story), Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov (his final work),The Idiot, The Demons, The Adolescent. Still have few left and although I can’t wait to read them, I postpone it because I do not want to finish them either, rather savour them. Enjoy !

  1. To answer your question, I’d start with The Adolescent, it is the first out of his three latest and greatest works. Also it is the book no one talks about, yet it impacted me almost as much and in a way The Brothers Karamazov have. Good luck !

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