About This Blog

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

"The Perfect You" (Dr Caroline Leaf)

TITLE: The Perfect You: A Blueprint for Identity
AUTHOR: Dr Caroline Leaf
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2017, (320 pages).

Is there such a thing as a perfect person? What happened to the common phrase: "There's no perfect person?" Before we dismiss this book on the basis of the title, perhaps we could begin with the cultural use of the word 'perfect.' In our everyday conversations, sometimes we would respond to the question: "How's your day going on?" with the answer: "Perfect!" This book is neither about semantics nor cultural cliches. Instead, it is about helping us become the best version of ourselves. It is about identity and what we can do to unleash our deepest potential. Most importantly, it is about recognizing the perfection is not about us but about the Perfect God who had designed us and made us. Our key to unlocking this is understanding how we are wired. It begins with God and the blueprint provided in this book will bring us closer to seeing this beauty of God in us. Combining theology, science, philosophy, and practical checklists, Dr Caroline Leaf helps us to discern how we think, feel, and choose. Based on neuroscience, she is convinced that our minds control our brains. Based on her research and practice, she believes that individual choice plays a bigger role. She defines the "Perfect You" as "how you uniquely and specifically think, how you uniquely and specifically feel, and how you uniquely and specifically choose." It is essentially the intersection of mind, heart, and will that makes up the framework of this key thesis. She redefines success as being able to transform our community and to bring heaven to earth. Instead of searching for some potential out there, we are urged to consider developing the potential that is in us.

Part One of the book sets the stage for the overall direction of the book. Leaf explains her thesis statement and points out the nature of us, though we are made in the image of God, because of sin, we are "broken mirrors." We are gradually urged to move away from the "fear tree" toward the "love tree." With good mental health, appropriate experience, and the will to choose well, we overcome fear with love. Part Two looks at the person from the standpoint of philosophy and science. In philosophy, Leaf tackles the area of thinking and mental attitudes by contrasting dualism and materialsm; materialism with philosophical idealism; and the limitation of neuroscience and classical physics. She spends a lot of time on the scientific aspect as she outlines the "Geodesic Information Processing Model" that comprises seven metacognitive modules: (interpersonal; intrapersonal; linguistic; logical/mathematical; kinesthetic; musical; and visual/spatial). This model is the key proposal to addressing the intersection of mind, heart, and will. Out of this model comes the simpler Unique Qualitative Assessment Tool (UQ) which is a series of questions framed around the seven metacognitive modules. These questions alone form nearly half the book which makes this book both theory and practice bound together as one volume, making it highly affordable when compared to other personality tests and profile questionnaires. I must say that the questions are quite intimidating at first as it asks questions of us up close and personal. If we really want to know ourselves better, the journey through these questions will reveal quite a lot of knowns and even more unknowns in us.

Sometimes, the simplest questions (Who am I?) could also be the hardest to answer. That depends on how honest we are and how well we know ourselves. There are some parts in this book that are challenging because it gets a bit too technical, especially the chapter that outlines Leaf's GIP model. That said, we do not need to fully comprehend that model in order to benefit from the UQ Assessment questions, which are laid out in everyday English. Plus, the chapters that follow the assessment tool guide us toward self-evaluation and checks. There are multiple endorsements at the front of the book which would piqued the curiosity of any reader. The biblical content is minimal. The theological application is considered from time to time, but the bulk of the book is based on neuroscience and the underlying belief that that a healthy mind is essential for personal growth. I appreciate the chapter on "Perfect You Metacognitive Module Exercises" which I feel is the chapter that makes this book most worthwhile.

This book would be most beneficial if you have the time to answer the questions and to actually work on the assessment questions. Otherwise, the book will be more theory than practice.

Dr. Caroline Leaf is a cognitive neuroscientist with a PhD in Communication Pathology and a BSc in Logopedics and Audiology, specializing in metacognitive and cognitive neuropsychology. She is a popular speaker who frequently speaks on topics that applies scientific principles of the brain to spiritual and practical matters, especially in understanding ourselves.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Books and Graf-Martin Communications without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment