Book Review by Patty Johnson M.S.W.

Dr. Leland M. Heller’s new book “Biological Unhappiness” fills a large void in the medical field, not only in diagnosing these biological causes of unhappiness, but in their treatment as well.

In the past these disorders were considered “psychologically” based with the only hope of treatment to be that of psychotherapy. As a therapist, that is how I used to view their treatment. I now know this isn’t true, particularly after reading this book (and his previous book “Life at the Border: Understanding and Recovering from the Borderline Personality Disorder”). Dr. Heller shows that these disorders are “biologically” based, treatable with medication and counseling.

Perhaps for many of these disorders the etiology is based in trauma, however abuse, trauma, etc. can damage the brain and either cause or worsen the disorders. Dr. Heller advocates treating all aspects, physical, mental and spiritual.

Currently, many of the disorders Dr. Heller lists in his book are underdiagnosed and undertreated. I believe most doctors are unaware of how to diagnose these “illnesses,” much less how to treat them. Many people spend years in therapy only to find they still fit the criteria for the disorders .

This book, I believe, is a necessity for the patient, and for anyone who feels they are not enjoying life to the fullest. Many of us will find ourselves in these pages, where no doctor has found us before. Dr. Heller believes that it is only when patients demand proper treatment that changes can and will be made. He states “victims of the these disorders must take responsibility for getting themselves well and for pushing the medical and mental health communities into pursuing solutions that work.”

“Biological Unhappiness” will educate many clinicians and mental health professionals in treating these disorders. I worked as a therapist for many years dealing with many different populations. Had this book been accessible at the start of my career, I would have ordered more medical evaluations on clients, instead of only psychological ones.

It was not until I “met” Dr. Heller on the Internet that I learned that my disorders (borderline personality disorder, GAD, cyclothymia and panic disorder) were MEDICALLY based and that after proper diagnosis, the first step was medical treatment of these disorders. After learning this, as well as what the right medications were, I educated my own doctor who tried me on the right medications. Since then my life changed dramatically! All of my biological disorders today are treated.

I have been involved with several different types of therapy for many years, none of which improved my disorders in any way. Dr. Heller frequently told me “what didn’t work before medication can work now.”

After teaching about the disorders and finding the right medications, Dr. Heller then discusses how the person can begin to “retrain their brain,” furthering healing. Every morning and every evening I read positive affirmations as well as listening to motivational tapes, such as Zig Ziglar’s.

This book discusses that even after biological disorders are treated medically, we still need to deal with the “after affects” the disorders have caused in our lives. Dr. Heller discusses recovery in detail. He provides hope, purpose and incentive.

After I became familiar with Dr. Heller’s work, I realized my dream of doing something about the BPD could be realized. I set up a Website on the Internet called “Borderline Personality Disorder Sanctuary” which includes much of his work regarding this painful disorder. It has been an honor to work with him, and I appreciate his genuine concern and generosity – particularly regarding the “Ask the Doctor” section.

As I look back on my life, I see senseless years of chaos, emotional pain, rejection sensitivity, etc. affecting every area of my life. I know now that this suffering can stop.

The book “Biological Unhappiness” can help make this suffering stop. It provides hope to all of us that suffer needlessly and a “map” for doctors in treating these patients.

Patty Johnson M.S.W., Owner – “Borderline Personality Disorder Sanctuary”

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