Stopping The Noise Inside Your Head: The New Way To Overcome Anxiety And Worry, by Reid Wilson, read by Eric Michaelian
This is an odd book, not least because it is a rare book written from the point of view of a psychologist that I can wholeheartedly enjoy and appreciate. The contrast this book makes from the usual book of this fare, with its agendas to push some sort of Buddhist thought and practice, is striking. And to be sure, the author has his share of mantras, but his writing is more ecumenical in its fashion and one that is very clearly open both to faith and confidence in a higher power (the phrase “Let Go And Let God” finds its way here a few times) as well as to the insights of research when it comes to the tactics of dealing with anxiety and obsession. Without sacrificing anything when it comes to clinical insights as well as scientific rigor, the author shows that there is a way for psychology to serve the interests of the reader rather than merely to push an agenda, and the book is a lot better for that than it would have been otherwise, had the author simply done what so many have done before .
In terms of its contents, this book manages to provide something of worth by giving the reader a new approach to anxiety and worry that is based on the past few decades of research, including the author’s own practice, some of which he has tried on himself. The author recognizes that there is both signal and noise when it comes to panic, and that there are multiple routes by which the amygdala becomes motivated to spread panic throughout the body, but turns the struggle against worry and anxiety into a game with a striking set of rules. First, one seeks out rather than strives to avoid stressful and anxious situations, then one turns one’s attention from the anxious worry to whatever one wanted to do, repeating as many times as necessary until the task is done. Having spent a lot of time working with people struggling with OCD or some type of panic disorder, the author urges people not to pay much attention to the specific content of the anxiety or obsession, but rather to attend to the underlying mechanisms of it and the desires one has to want to live a better life and take back territory that anxiety has blocked off, viewing anxiety like a diabolical but clever adversary.
And it is the diabolical nature of anxiety that struck me as particularly noteworthy about the author’s approach. By personalizing anxiety, by making it a strategic opponent with wiles that one can outwit, the author manages to effectively anthropomorphize a psychological insight. This is a book of tactics and mindsets, and the author effectively points to case studies, his own experience, and research to bolster his claims, but ultimately a book like this is meant to be tried out. If you are someone who struggles with anxiety, this book is focused on what you can do about it, namely to act as though there is nothing wrong with flying in an airplane or driving into a parking garage and then taking steps to ensure that one can get the right messages of safety to make it possible to live one’s life again without being crippled by worry and fear. For struggling with those things is a diabolical struggle that many people face on a regular basis, and any book like this one which provides one some valuable tips of the trade is to be appreciated and applied.
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