June 11, 2008

By James S. Gordon MD

I’m very much looking forward to doing this blog. I’ve titled my blog “Healing Ourselves.” This gives me plenty of latitude to talk about what most excites and/or troubles me, to share with you what I’m discovering about all we can do to help and heal ourselves – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and yes, socially and politically too.

My focus for a while is going to be on clinical depression, which affects almost 20 million Americans each year, and the ordinary confusion, unhappiness, and anxiety that is a part of virtually all of our lives. I’m going to be using the blog to give you an absolutely up to date understanding and experience of the comprehensive approach I describe in my new book Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven Stage Journey Out of Depression. I’m going to share with you what I am and will be learning since I wrote Unstuck: new research on food and mood, on herbal therapies and social support; additional exercises to enhance your ability to deal with the “demons,” the fears and vulnerability that plagues us; new resources for improving mood and enhancing optimism – groups that are effective, books that are inspiring; hints for sorting out confusion as you embrace the spiritual dimension of your life, and much more.

You might want to think of Unstuck as a kind of basic text – a Life 101. It clearly and simply presents my approach to moving through and beyond depression, confusion, and anxiety and will give you a grounding that this blog will build on. You can if you want, order the book at a per-publication discount through The Center for Mind-Body Medicine website ( or find it, after June 16th, 2008, in your local bookstore.

As time goes on, I’ll respond in my blog to questions that readers like you will ask about depression, anxiety, unhappiness, and confusion, or about any of the places in your life or in “Life” where you find yourself stuck.

I’ll also be keeping you up to date on the work we’re doing at The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM): how we’re helping to enrich the practice and revive the spirit of medicine here in the US and to bring emotional healing to traumatized populations around the world, and how you can participate in this work.

I’ll also, as time goes on, be addressing many other subjects that seem so urgent to me, and I think to so many of us. Here’s one that is very much on my mind: the sad, actually terrifying, state of American healthcare, with its often poor results; its low ranking compared to other industrialized nations; its exorbitant, over-inflated costs; its high incidence of iatrogenic (physician and hospital caused) deaths; its hurried, insensitive care; and its all but exclusive focus on disease and its lack of concern with wellness. The presidential candidates are, so far as I’m concerned, inadequately addressing these issues. I’ll provide critiques of what’s wrong, practical plans for creating a new and different kind of healthcare, and suggestions for how you can help make them happen.

I’ll sometimes focus on other larger issues that seem relevant to our individual and collective healing: for example, the ways that we use denial to avoid dealing with unpleasant realities, like climate change or the destructiveness of wars, or death. And I’ll discuss how we can open ourselves to ways of dealing with them which will enrich our own lives and make a difference in the larger world. And occasionally, I’ll suggest – and review – books and movies that can change your life.

I’ll also share with you what I’m learning everyday in my relationship with my family and friends and the people I work with in the world, from my own ongoing personal as well as professional practice of the Unstuck approach. I look forward to learning from you too.

As part of my first entry, I’m sharing with you a piece I wrote a couple of months ago on a very important study that appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine (358:252, January 17, 2008 Special Article). The style is a little more formal than I’ll use in the blog because I originally wrote it for a mainstream publication, but I think the main idea comes across pretty well. The best scientific evidence tells us that antidepressant drugs are far less effective than all of us, doctors and patients alike, have been led to believe. Its eye-opening and necessary information.