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Emotional Processing – Healing through Feeling

RRP $19.95

In this UK-published book, Roger Baker describes ’emotional processing’- a theory of emotional healing that has emerged recently in psychology.

A practicing clinical psychologist, he draws from substantial experience treating emotional disturbances, such as phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.

After a brief survey of the different historical perspectives on emotions, he ponders their role today: should they be controlled or expressed? Are there good and bad ways to express emotions?

Baker describes what he calls our ’emotional immune system’- the natural process humans seem to have for coping with emotional stress.

He talks about the one element common to successful psychological treatments, and outlines different ways people block or derail emotional healing. (This includes such ‘coping strategies’ as suppression [I don’t let it bother me] and avoidance [I just don’t think about it].)

Baker highlights a disturbing link between poor emotional coping habits and illness (including chronic pain and even cancer), but also shows how we can aid our natural capacity to deal with the emotional stresses of life.

He sketches growing evidence against the common notion that emotions are anti-rational, and require taming. Rather, our emotions and intellect are integrated, and engaging with our feelings allows a much fuller understanding of the world around us.

Baker writes capably, and the numerous case studies he uses, along with short chapters and diagrams, make this subject very accessible.

While it is predominantly in layman’s language, some technical terms are present (anterior cingulate cortex, anyone?), but knowledge of them is not required for understanding the book.

It could perhaps flow more smoothly: the development of Baker’s argument is not always perfectly clear.

Overall, though, Emotional Processing a highly readable book, which presents the attractive possibility of learning to love our emotions, even the negative ones, thereby making our lives healthier, happier and deeply enriched.

Reviewed by Renee England who describes herself as a roaming reviewer of no fixed ecclesiastical address.