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”

Biological Unhappiness A Book Review by Joe Vitale

Teenagers shooting classmates. Employees killing coworkers. Suicides accounting for more deaths that murder. Mental health costing $200 billion a year in the US alone. With all of these disturbing facts, the world may seem like it revolves around unhappiness. Unfortunately, for far too many people, it does.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Dr. Leland Heller, a Florida family physician and author of the new book, Biological Unhappiness (Dyslimbia Press, 1999), offers a solution. Some readers may find it controversial, while others will find it welcome relief for a nightmare.

In 1988 Dr. Heller learned of something called Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), likely a form of epilepsy with mood swings, anger problems, self-destructiveness, and psychotic rage under stress. Many tragedies such as school shootings are due to the BPD. As Dr. Heller researched this new psychological aberration, he learned that BPD was a medical problem masquerading as an emotional one. In other words, BPD was causing a wide variety of problems in a shocking 4-8% of the entire population, and all of it was treatable.

Dr. Heller writes in his book, “Substance abuse, auto accidents, family destruction and divorce; suicide, violent crime, AIDS and other progressively untreatable sexually transmitted diseases, ruined lives, child and spousal abuse, the increasing prison population and other societal problems have ‘biological unhappiness’ as a major cause. A major TREATABLE cause.”

Treatment seems to revolve around medication and counseling. Fortunately Dr. Heller has a balanced approach to happiness. He writes, “We are like a three-legged stool: Mind, body, and spirit. All three have to be working properly for a happy, successful life.”

One of the gifts in this book is the Screening Test (which can also be found online at This simple tool can help determine if someone suffers from such disorders as ADD, Bipolar Disorder, BPD, Panic Disorder, etc.,—all stemming from a biological problem that is treatable.

Biological Unhappiness is fascinating reading. The book begins with a variety of case studies, each followed by Dr. Heller’s commentaries and insights. The effect is like reading a fine mystery novel. The characters are identifiable. How will they survive? Keep reading to discover Dr. Heller’s prescriptions and the results that follow.

Sometimes the good doctor is blunt. For example, when discussing Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD), he writes: “What is the OCPD? You can read many definitions, and I think they’re mostly RIDICULOUS! It’s not caused by strict parents, it’s a brain disorder that begins in early childhood.”

Other times the doctor reveals surprising good news. Women readers (and their male companions) will delight in hearing that PMS is covered in this book. Dr. Heller says, “I now firmly believe that most PMS symptoms are due to fluid retention, especially brain swelling.” To resolve the problem, he often prescribes mild water pills (such as HCTZ) or more powerful diuretics (such as Demedex). He writes, “PMS is a source of enormous biological unhappiness. Most women, their friends, and loved ones don’t need to suffer.”

In virtually every case, medication is prescribed. This may rattle some readers. But it’s important to remember that Dr. Heller doesn’t prescribe relying on medication. He writes, “While it’s essentially impossible to recover without the proper medications, medicine is NOT the answer. Medicine allows one to begin the recovery process.”

Biological Unhappiness is a powerful, refreshing, and fascinating book that may hold the keys to health and happiness for millions of people currently living a life of inner torture. Read it and pass it to the people you care about.

— review by Joe Vitale, author of ten books, including The Seven Lost Secrets of Success