As someone who has finally emerged from years of self-hatred and depression fueled by personal trauma, the cover and title of the book, Holistic Healing for Drug & Alcohol Addiction: Enlivening Body, Mind and Spirit to Remedy Depression, Anxiety and Self Hate, struck me as the “cure-all” pill I so sincerely desired during those struggles and was warned by professionals did not exist. In a world full of remedies and alternative options, what’s a mental health sufferer to do but try everything he or she can? So, I opened Jessica Rae Pulver-Adell’s book with a tentatively open mind, wondering if there was anything I could learn to help others who continue to wrestle with the same maladies.
Pulver-Adell has crafted an elementary primer on the use of New Age practices and Eastern Medicine to deal with mental illness, referring to these methods as the “metaphysical arts.” She proposes and demonstrates how adopting practices such as crystal healing, feng shui, chakra healing, oracle decks, tea leaves, adult coloring, and more not only reduce the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and self-hate, but help to address the root issue causing the illnesses &emdash; a lack of connection. While Pulver-Adell’s desire to see these principles and practices work to change lives is evident in her writing, the entire premise of the book requires one basic thing of the reader &emdash; one that this reviewer could not give with good conscious: an earnest belief in New Age mystic arts as tools of healing.
I make that statement as one who, again, has walked this road of healing successfully, but also as someone who decidedly avoids all New Age practices listed in the book. However, as a reviewer, I will put aside my personal thoughts and objectively speak about the book as a whole, its recommendations, and its handling of the topics.
As a primer, Pulver-Adell approaches mental illness with a sensitive touch. The tone is both encouraging and empowering, as if the author is sharing the secret which she has been created to share. This tone is effective at drawing the reader in and creates an environment that is open and safe for the reader as she introduces the modalities of healing. A large portion of the book is devoted to those very modalities: crystal healing, feng shui, chakra healing, daily affirmations, oracle decks, tea drinking and reading tea leaves, adult coloring, meditation, journaling, scrapbooking, practical wisdom (which includes most of the alternative modalities commonly discussed), and closing notes from the therapists of Harbor Village, the institution at which the author is based. Each section builds on the next, with the largest emphasis placed on the value of crystal healing and feng shui to combat addiction, anxiety, and depression. What is unique about the way the book is written is that it blends together practical basics, accessible application, quotes, and a first person narrative that gives it all a feel of a personal therapy session instead of interaction with a physical text. This is perhaps the most notable feature of the book, and from my perspective, contributes largely to its effectiveness &emdash; it feels real and genuine. Pulver-Adell’s concern and care is conveyed as each modality is discussed, and I picked up on a genuine passion and conviction that if used as directed, these tools can heal. This stands out considerably.
Objectively speaking, the title is misleading. The term “holistic healing” is defined by the author as “the practice of harmonizing the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual places of yourself.” From this, she introduces a metaphysical belief system that hinges upon a universal being and spirit. While the New Age philosophy and practices are a large part of the author’s life and understanding, they are established here as both truth and remedy, a dangerous combination for someone requiring therapy for mental illness. This is where I struggle with the premise and intent, and for me, where I feel the book misses the target. I was not convinced by the text that these things were anything I could believe in, trust in, and buy into as genuine modes of healing, a must for someone entering into recovery. They were proposed as an “obvious” solution to an insurmountable problem. I was pleased to see the author address the scientific validity of the practices; however, the terminology used to support the practices was broad, notably: “complementary and alternative medicine.” I struggle, as a reader, to place medicinal plants, herbs, and oils on the same playing field as reading tea leaves.
While the book provides plentiful information on mystic arts, New Age practices, and their potential healing properties, it does not offer the bill of goods sold upon reading the cover, the introduction, or even buying into the heart of the author. It would be better sold, marketed, and read as an overview of such practices. Despite its easy-to-read verbiage and flow, articulately expressed thoughts, and overall well-written information, its intent and claims remained flimsy and were not fully validated, in my opinion. To someone reading this for their own recovery purposes, I would recommend seeing these practices and mystic arts as something you can consider, but to do additional research on their validity to determine if it’s something you personally wish to invest in.
Holistic Healing for Addiction: Enlivening Body, Mind and Spirit to Remedy Depression, Anxiety and Self-Hate
Harbor Village, January 2017
E-book, 289 pages