Book Review: Blue Genes (Author: Paul Meier)
Blue Genes is written by Dr. Paul Meier, Dr. Todd Clements, Dr. Jean-Luc Bertrand, and David Mandt Sr. It tackles the topic of mental illness from a Christian perspective and was published as a Focus on the Family Resource book by Tyndale House Publishers in 2005. The book is divided into twelve chapters:
- Blue Genes: Hope and Healing for You and Your Family.
- Serotonin Blue Genes.
- Blue Genes, Sleep and Dreams.
- Baby Blue Genes.
- Paranoid Blue Genes.
- Loneliness Blue Genes.
- The ADD Advantage.
- Mood Swing Blue Genes.
- Hormonal Blue Genes.
- Nutrients, Vitamins and Blue Genes.
- Blue Genes and the Future of the World.
- Dos and Don’ts: Helping Families with Blue Genes.
The book clocks in at a fairly slim 210 pages and is readable while also fairly in-depth on the nature of mental illness and its treatment. It covers a variety of mental illnesses including depression, bipolar disorder, ADD, and psychosis. It tackles the topic primarily from a biological/physiological perspective – that is, it examines the underlying physical issues that cause mental illness rather than the psychological or spiritual (though it does hit on both of these topics as well).
I’d recommend this book highly to anyone who struggles with mental illness, questions the reality of mental illness, works with those who are mentally ill or so on. It is an excellent primer on the subject.
The main thrusts of the books, imho, are:
- Mental Illness is largely a biological, physiological problem resulting from damaged genes and imbalanced chemicals/hormones. While environment and spirituality also play a role in mental illness – the biological and physiological aspects should be explored first.
- Mental Illness can be successfully treated by a number of different medications which correct chemical and hormonal imbalances and these medications are safer than natural alternatives and supplements.
- At the same time, there is a place for the consideration of psychological, environmental, and spiritual aspects to mental illness – and these should be considered and treated appropriately.
- A proper diet will help decrease mental illness symptoms but cannot be replied upon solely to cure mental health issues.
- There is great hope to be found in modern scientific developments which are improving the treatments and diagnosis of mental health issues.
I’m a big fan of medications. I’ve been on fluoxetine (prozac) at 60 mg for eight years now and it brings my ability to function from around 40% to 80%. Few folks at this juncture remember me (other than my wonderful wife Charity) during the worst days of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – but it was not pretty…so I may be biased in favor of the medical model of mental health treatment – but I do think Dr. Meier and company do a good job balancing the different ways in which we can treat mental health issues and acknowledging the multiple modalities that can be helpful while also trying to emphasize the primary importance of medications in correcting brain chemical imbalances and undermining the myth that struggles like depression are primarily spiritual rather than physiological.