Practicing Mental Illness: Meditation, Movement and Meaningful Work to Manage Challenging Moods (Transformation)

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Practicing Mental Illness: Meditation, Movement and Meaningful Work to Manage Challenging Moods (Transformation)

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Description

Practicing Mental Illness is a guide to using meditation, movement and meaningful work to help manage affective disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. Not a typical book on mindfulness, it acknowledges where mindfulness practices as taught today can be helpful, and where methods and teachings in popular mindfulness can be very damaging to people with mental illness.

George Hofmann has written a subversive self-help book, which acknowledges that our society’s low expectations of people with behavioral challenges contribute to the development of mental illness. He gives the reader the necessary tools to take responsibility to get well and stay well. In the end, Practicing Mental Illness presents a method that can help people with affective disorders predict oncoming mood changes and intervene to head off damaging emotions and maintain a balance of positive mental, and physical, health.

Reviews

This book contains three profound ideas that helped me reframe mental illness – it is as much for friends and family as for those suffering from these conditions:
1. We say a person “has” cancer, but that they “are” mentally ill. Identifying a person with a sickness they have is no only not helpful, it becomes part of the problem. Read this book, and you won’t make that mistake again.
2. Too often we treat people with mental illness as victims who are powerless over their disease. Even our attempts at empathy can serve to further disempower people struggling with it. The author reframes mental illness as a practice…something one can not just cope with, but use that struggle to forge a life of meaning and purpose. The author’s own harrowing personal journey makes it clear that this is a perilous path, one that takes courage, effort and a will to integrity and responsibility. I can’t tell you how much this has challenged my own poorly-thought through attitudes.
3. Medication alone is not the answer. Somehow we have been convinced that pharmaceuticals are the one and only way to deal with mental illness. The author is quite clear that for brain chemistry issues, yes, getting the right meds in the right doses is essential – but not enough on its own help a person build a balanced and fulfilling life. The author explains what has worked for him to help him go more than a decade without a bipolar episode. He provides a suite of possibilities for readers…and its not just the stuff you read everywhere about meditation being the answer. In fact, he is quite clear not only about the limits of meditation, but also the risks of simply diving into a mediation program without building other skills at the same time…Including work, exercise, and developing one’s sense of purpose. In sum, if you have someone in your life who “has” a mental illness, do them a favour and read this book. Then give a copy to them, and start a conversation. ~ Tim Ward

It is one thing to read a book that validates what you already know or believe; it is quite another to learn so much about a subject when you are totally unprepared to do so. I am not a big fan of self-help books. However, reading Practicing Mental Illness gave me some tools that I don’t think I realized I needed.
George Hofmann’s book is written as a helpful guide for people with the types of mental illness that create such mood disorders as anxiety, depression, or mania. However, having just lived through a pandemic, I have to say that this book would be helpful to EVERYONE. It was certainly helpful to me.
The author writes with a certain gravitas that at time startles the reader. While he hits a sobering chord by saying “there is no romance in insanity,” he does tell us that with hard work and attention, “a life with a mental illness can be lived well.” Knowing that he has succeeded in helping himself predict, prevent, and manage episodes of his mental illness, people with similar issues can see that there is hope. ~ Edward J. Snyder

George Hofmann is the author of Practicing Mental Illness: Meditation, Movement and Meaningful Work to Manage Challenging Moods. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with his wife, their daughter and two poorly behaved dogs.

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