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on November 18, 2002
I have read this book a few times, and in each reading, I find concepts and "observations", that are profoundly rich in their effort to put the reader in touch with some of the most difficult to grasp ideas about non-Traditional Chinese Medicine. Dr. Hammers background is much deeper and wider than what is taught in the schools here and in China. (If you don't know what I mean by that, explore what happened to the practice of indigenous Chinese Medicine during the cultural revolution.)
This is not a book for folks who are unfamiliar with the basic "tenets" of Chinese Medicine. It is a bit more "esoteric" in it's reach, and really tries to conceptualize "in the minds eye" relationships and interactions, energetically or "psychologically" if you prefer, that the TCM model attempts to form poorly, or not at all.
I must, respectfully, take the reviewer from Seattle to task about it being "dark". I certainly know what he means, but the only way to find fault in the extremes of the book, is if you didn't happen to read Dr. Hammers admission within the book, that he has exaggerated the conditions he describes, and that the patients are not real people. Rather, they are constructs of clients, created for the sake of fleshing out the concepts presented in the book. Though sometimes portions need a re-read, I just can't find fault with Dr. Hammer for doing what he suggests I should be aware he is going to do.
As another reviewer has said, this is one you'll return to over and over. A most wonderful book!!
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on April 11, 2002
I bought this book as a first year acupuncture student and have referred to it many times. As the other reviewer says, it is quite dark and does discuss extremes, but then mental illness is about extremes. It is really useful to look at the extreme yin or yang aspect of an Element and its Officals to fully understand how the Element can manifest when out of balance. I don't know of any other book which provides such an in depth picture of each of the 5 Element types. Sounds heavy, but is in fact relatively easy to read if you have a reasonable understanding of psychology. Definately one of my top 5 Chinese Medicine books, this is a book that you read again and again.
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on May 19, 2000
The question of mind-body duality has fueled many long and heated debates. Dr. Hammer, who is well trained in traditional Western medicine and psychology, recognized the importance of working with the person, and not just a part of that person. In an effort to be true to his view, and to the patients he treated, he trained in and added Traditional Chinese Medicine to his treatment skills, thus allowing him to treat the whole person in an integrated, rather than a fragmented manner. This book presents Dr. Hammer's integrated understanding of how the body impacts the mind, and the mind impacts the body. In a clear and concise manner, and with useful clinical examples, Dr. Hammer takes the reader through fundamental principles and concepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and then applies them to the specific area of Psychology. This is not a "how to" book, rather it is a thought provoking volume on how to integrate two seemingly disparate fields of health care (Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Western Psychoanalytic thought). Through his examination of these models and his description of how he thinks, as he works with his patients, the reader is able to gain insight into this integrated process. While the book is by no means an exhaustive treatise on the subject, it lays a solid foundation on which others can easily build, both academically and in clinical practice. I look forward to reading more of Dr. Hammer's writings in the future, and hope that other clinicans will follow his lead.
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on March 24, 2012
I love this book - although i realize now that there is an updated version, which I will have to order.
I'm a serious student & practitioner of meditation, so the body-mind connection with health is of huge significance to me.
I'm also about to embark on 5 years of Chinese medicine study in Canada - and was a little worried that the psychology aspect would be missing.

This book is a huge reassurance that Chinese Medicine is grounded in deep awareness and wisdom encompassing all the facets of human-ness.

It helps make Chinese Medicine accessible to the Western mind.

Order the new release, as Hammer has made some important revisions to this amazing work.
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on January 12, 2001
With the caveat that I'm not a practitioner, but merely a reasonably well-informed patient, I found this book overly **dark.** It was interesting, to a point, but also scary, and always tending towards the negative. I think the fact that the author is a psychiatrist may have something to do with that, but it seemed to take the exaggerated form of any of the five element's characteristics and show what it would look like, taken to the ultimate extreme--and, somehow, that was always bad. While I found a superbly fitting description of a difficult person in my life that helped me get some perspective on him by reading this book, at the same time, when I read items about my own element, I found them exaggerated and bizarre; as they would be in mental illness but not in real life. Apparently the author is almost "psychic" about being able to uncover the health-based Achille's heel in his patients, but I didn't find reading about it a nourishing or uplifting experience. Not that a book has to be, but this one was uniformly dark, and I had to believe that came from the author's perspective, and was no accident. Odd!
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