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The Body Speaks: Theraputic Dialogues for Mind-Body Problems
James L. Griffiths
Basic Books | Basic Behavioral Sciences / Hardcover / Apr 1994
9780465007165 (ISBN-10: 0465007163)
Mind & Body / Collaborative Therapies
price: $63.00 (may be subject to change)
256 pages
Not in Stock, usually ships in 3-6 business days

For decades, health care providers have worked as though there were a monolithic wall dividing the ailments of the mind from those of the body. Theorists on either side developed separate languages and philosophies to explain symptoms. This distinction has left many clinicians unable to treat successfully patients whose symptoms-such as headaches, conversion paralysis, and seizures-arise from the place where mind and body meet. In this book, the authors describe a powerful narrative therapy, one that relies on the wisdom and everyday language of patients' real-life stories instead of the expert knowledge and professional language of the clinician.

This approach can be used across all categories of somatic symptoms, from factitious ones to medical illnesses such as asthma or migraine headaches. The authors show how somatic symptoms are often related to unspeakable dilemmas, as in the case of a child who, after discovering a parent's marital infidelity, is afraid to disclose the secret and begins having blackout spells for which a neurologist can find no physiological basis.

These dilemmas can be understood only if a clinician creates the kind of relationship in which privately held stories of fear, shame, and threat can be told safely. Detailed case studies and numerous brief examples vividly illustrate techniques for helping patients escape the dilemmas that bind their bodies by finding new language and stories that can free them.In an innovative section, the authors rethink the current ideas and practices of psychopharmacology.

Rather than "treating" a brain disease, a clinician uses medications to recalibrate brain systems that register alarm, thereby opening new possibilities for therapeutic change through speaking, listening, reflecting, and relating.This book offers all clinicians-psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, nurses, physicians, and family therapists-a way to use language to help patients resolve bodily symptoms. It avoids the stigmatization that patients and families so often experience-and the frustration clinicians feel-when struggling to find answers for mind-body problems.


"To say this book is groundbreaking does not do justice to the authors. Listening to the body and the mind in the ways that James and Melissa Griffith suggest brings together several traditions in an original, exciting, and effective treatment approach. This book should become a classic. Congratulations are due to the authors for their outstanding contribution."
Lee Combrinck-Graham, M.D., author of Giant Steps

"We have waited far too long for an inventive clinical discourse integrating the mind and body narratives that constitute our whole experience. This book is a must for clinicians."
Peggy Penn, Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy

"A true gift to all health and mental health professionals. The authors invite us into exciting new territory and provide a major advance in our thinking and working with complex mind-body problems. This book is unique in combining conceptual creativity and rigor with clinical richness."
John S. Rolland, M.D., author of Families, Illness, and Disability

"The family therapy movement, focused as it has been on relational systems, has historically paid little attention to mind-body problems. James and Melissa Griffith consider these problems without making either the individual or the family disappear. We should be grateful to them for tracing out the arc that links systems through stories to the body and the soul."
Lynn Hoffman, author of Foundations of Family Therapy

About the Authors:

James L. Griffith, M.D. is professor of psychiatry at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine. Melissa Elliot Griffith, M.S.N. is director of the Family Therapy Program at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine. They have made their treatment approach for somatoform disorders the focus of numerous journal articles and popular workshops.

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