Cherish the Invisible Mind: A Plan to Heal Humanity by Defeating Narcissism andNeurosis. Damian B. Kim, M.D. Braugler Books. ISBN: 978-1970063837. $19.99US. Paper. 142 pages.
Dr. Damian B. Kim is a healer, and his words of wisdom in his new book Cherish the Invisible Mind offer sound guidance in our age of mental health crises. The book is excellently written, engaging, and well organized. Drawing on a number of scientific studies and psychological theories, as well as his own vast clinical experience, Dr. Kim tackles a range of problems and offers a number of solutions. For instance, narcissism and ego-centrism found among many younger Americans is leading to high expectations unfulfilled, competitiveness, and hence loneliness, depression, and even acts of suicide. Overall, Dr. Kim’s book is a succinct but commanding appraisal of and relevant response to a host of mental health disorders, ranging from anxiety and depression to drug abuse and violence, plaguing the American mind today.
As a highly-trained psychiatrist, Dr. Kim sees that some neuroses can be cultural; that is, mental health can be negatively affected or triggered by social conditions immersing people, often unwittingly, in a materialistic and power oriented society. This predicament is then compounded, Dr. Kim goes on, by professionally trained counselors who miss the cues or provide a failing treatment. With a focus on millennials, Dr. Kim’s head and heart are in the right place: he cares about the future of Americans and the U.S. This honest approach has not, of course, been embraced by all his peers, as he is the first to admit.
In an age of rampant psychiatric medications, Dr. Kim believes the source of people’s problems should be treated using psychotherapy whenever possible. A major concern of Dr. Kim is the rise of suicide rates in the U.S., perhaps because, not to oversimplify, the comfort of the body (using medicines and technology) has taken pride of place over the health of mind (using talk therapy). So Dr. Kim, as implied in the title of his book, seeks to penetrate and renew the unconscious mind which can often take a pernicious grip on one’s life with baneful results. This is more of a qualitative rather than a quantitative approach and hence, today, often ignored by many professionals though quite useful. At the same time, the unconscious mind can be a wellspring of sustenance if properly recognized, gently cared for, and ably negotiated. That’s the area of Dr. Kim’s expertise.
Dr. Kim rightly draws an analogy between the deteriorating and widespread harms of neuroses to a pandemic virus spiraling out of control, also unseen and destructive. Oddly, part of the cause for the spread of neuroses, he suggests, is capitalistic technology meant to make life easy and enjoyable, since it draws people apart and distracts them away from mindfulness and empathy. This book is a profound assessment of the current and at times superficial practices of psychiatry and yet an eloquent antidote to this profession’s shortcomings. Dr. Kim’s emphasis on character (using theory from Karen Horney) and interpersonal relationships correctly asks that contemporary people, especially the younger generations who will eventually be in control of government and the economy, engage in self-discovery. Some people might require professional therapy to do so, but the investment in self-understanding in a community of others is of paramount importance to Dr. Kim.
How do we solve these individual and social problems? There are some remedies that don’t require medication: education to increase knowledge of neuroses; meditation to help one come to grips with the self and comprehend the inner experience; psychotherapy, if required. In other words, answers to these problems are not necessarily in technology, more possessions, or competition among others but in acceptance and understanding of the unconscious mind. I found this book easy to read, enjoyable, and informative; it provides valuable guideposts to the future, and I recommend it to all students of psychology.
- Gregory F. Tague, Ph.D., professor, departments of Literature, Writing and Publishing / Interdisciplinary Studies, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, N.Y.