Let’s count our Bigs: we have Big Business, Big Pharma, Big Data and now Big Therapy. But Big Therapy may not be so big after all, and they’re not happy.
A New York Times piece lamented that, despite patients’ preferences for psychotherapy without medication by 3 to 1, treatment by medication alone had increased 34 percent. Big Therapy believes this decline in therapy’s drug-free treatment has hurt their image and reduced their usefulness. After all, who wants Small Therapy?
But Big Therapy might remain Big by platforming the new-old specialty of bibliotherapy. They might emphasize that reading books, even fiction, is a healing experience that can be an alternative to drugs in the alleviation of many ills, both psychological and physical. They know the practice is especially effective in treating depression, and that recuperating soldiers have reported healing results just from reading.
In their new book The Novel Cure, bibliotherapists Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin recommend titles to combat claustrophobia, stress, itchy teeth (!) and other ills. Oprah Magazine calls their idea a prescription to skip the pharmacy on your way to better health. Specific faves of Berthoud and Elderkin include Cleave (for broken legs) and A Member of the Wedding (loneliness). For book therapists, it’s mind over meds.
So you gain a new perspective and feel better after a good book. But could you expect a life changing experience as you read? Could you have a total recovery from illness?
I know of one book that did all of the above for a woman who faced both economic ruin and poor health. After falling on the ice in New England, this woman was not expected to live because of severe injuries. She called for her favorite book and read it again with fresh eyes and for comfort.
The woman studied one of many famous accounts of spiritual healing in this book, and she suddenly saw that the master healer recognized the innate goodness and wholeness of mankind, and that this perspective healed—something she’d thought we’d lost sight of in the intervening centuries since Jesus practiced his healing ministry. The book told how he cured lepers, cripples, epileptics, the mentally ill and others. After reading this Good Book, the Bible, Mary Baker Eddy felt convinced that health was maintained by divine Love, or God.
Eddy was permanently healed of her injuries, to the amazement of her doctors, and went on to establish her own healing practice for the rest of her long life based on this new view of health as essentially spiritual.
Later, many were healed by the book she in turn wrote about her radical new Bible-based insights. Recovery from addictions, pain, extreme fear and diagnosed diseases are some of the results people reported just from reading Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. (See chapter on Fruitage.) Readers were transformed and restored physically and mentally by this book, which turned them to the Bible as the source book for health and healing.
I know of another young widow in poor health, left to support four children while suffering from a goiter and other problems. Her sister recommended one radical new book on health and healing from a spiritual perspective. The young woman read the book, was healed of the goiter, and went on to establish a successful career in real estate that supported her family. Her daughter was also healed of a goiter, and I know this because the daughter was my grandmother. Members of my family have found health and healing through the Bible as illumined by this book by Mary Baker Eddy. Lives have been transformed.
From so many accounts, books such as these could make a big difference in your health and your life. So boot up your Amazon website. And when you put together your health team of primary care practitioners, pharmacists, nurses and therapists, why not add your local librarian?
She (or he) might open a truly drug-free path to better health. And on the way, one book might even transform your life—literally!
(Cynthia Barnett is the Media/Legislative Representative for the The Christian Science Committee on Publication, NC.)