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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adding SPECT Scans as a Diagnostic Tool for Psychiatry and Brain Function Enhancement, Feb. 17 2009
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 122,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Magnificent Mind at Any Age: Natural Ways to Unleash Your Brain's Maximum Potential (Paperback)
Today, much psychiatry involves deciding which pill to prescribe. Patients with the same symptoms may respond quite differently to the same medications. Most psychiatrists will candidly tell you that prescribing is mostly a matter of trial and error, with the patient often suffering during the process.

Dr. Daniel G. Amen has a different idea. Conduct SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scans to identify brain deficiencies in conjunction with standard psychiatric diagnostic tools. In this book, he shares examples of how various brain dysfunctions can be identified by such scans. After trying a treatment, he can then test the adequacy of the approach by asking the patient about his or her life and by looking at an updated scan. In these before and after images, the results are remarkably different.

As a substitute for such scans, Dr. Amen invites readers to respond to a series of questions that he often finds are indicative of brain dysfunctions. From there, he describes the various alternative (non-medicinal) treatments as well as the indicated meds. In many cases, patients will be helped by an improved diet, exercise, avoiding sources of brain trauma, improving hydration, reducing excess stress, learning how to stop focusing on negative thoughts, getting more sleep, reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption, avoiding aspartame and MSG, eliminating environmental toxins, and reducing television watching, video game playing, computer use, and cell phone calls and texting.

After you identify what you or a loved one might be suffering from, he also describes the treatments that usually help. In the course of this, he describes the latest research that describes why these treatments help.

As someone who isn't a physician, I was struck by the potential of imaging to improve diagnosis. I know what imaging has done for helping identify cancers, cardio-vascular diseases, and glandular dysfunctions. Obviously, I'm not in a position to judge the quality of Dr. Amen's work, but the theory makes sense to me as someone who often designs new measurements to diagnose the causes and sources of problems.

I found that the book's main weakness is that it wasn't always clear to me what Dr. Amen meant by his various screening questions. After I got into the sections that talked about the dysfunctions in more detail, I often found that I had misunderstood the purpose of his questions.

I liked the sections of the book that talk about how to improve your brain, even if you don't have a major dysfunction. I think that anyone will be intrigued by what Dr. Amen reports.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Daniel Amen Loves Brains!, Dec 9 2008
This review is from: Magnificent Mind at Any Age: Natural Ways to Unleash Your Brain's Maximum Potential (Paperback)
In Magnificent Mind at Any Age, Daniel Amen lets the reader know how much he loves brains. He talks about "brain envy," for example--what happens when someone sees an image of another person's brain that is healthier than their own. He informs us that he has improved the look of his brain from when he was in his 30's to his present age in the 50's. (He eliminated aspartame, was one way he did it.)

Amen writes: "A balanced brain is the foundation for a life that is happier, healthier, wealthier, and wise...If you really understand how to develop and take care of your brain, your life will be better no matter what your age."

what I found distressing is that he describes the brain as soft--like tofu--and vulnerable to injury. Amen writes that millions of people suffer from mild traumatic brain injuries and don't even know it and that the injuries cause emotional, behavioral and cognitive problems.

The doctor recommends a healthy diet, exercise, positive thought, avoiding a toxic environment, gratitude, meditation, little alcohol and caffeine and other common sense basics for the health of the brain. He also recommends fish oil and a daily multiple vitamin.

There is room for more information on each of the subjects above, but there wouldn't be room in a single book. For more information on a healthy diet, I recommend QUANTUM WELLNESS. For more on reducing toxins in the home/office, clutter elimination (which leads to stress), meditation and making a home a sanctuary (for relaxation and health,)read HARMONIOUS ENVIRONMENT.

Amen then recommends specific natural remedies for those suffering from ADD, anxiety and depression.

So far, so good. It's part II of the book I have some trouble with, as I feel it is too far-reaching and that Amen's suggestions are unlikely to make real change.

I will use the chapter on how to become a Maverick Thinker as an example. Amen considers himself a maverick (I know, you are thinking Palin and McCain...) According to Amen, a maverick is one who is an independent thinker. He believes that over control, dependence, anxiety and stress inhibit independent thinking. His strategies to help a person become a maverick include keeping brain healthy, work to be happy but work through tough times, and practice independent and personal responsibility.

Sounds good...but I just don't buy that someone who has always listened to others to form their own thoughts will read this and suddenly change.

There is much to be gained with from this book and I do recommend it.
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