Anonymous Graduate Student
Theory Critique 3 – Hart
In an interesting summation of adrenaline and its effect on brain tranquillizers, Dr. Archibald D. Hart (1999) presents a fascinating perspective on the adrenaline-anxiety connection in his well-received book, The Anxiety Cure. Hart suggests emotional tranquility and wholeness is possible and examines strategies to overcome anxiety as he explores the connection between stress and the body. This critique will examine Hart’s contribution as he encourages readers to make significant life changes in their quest for peace and the preservation of sanity.
Theory Summary As an unavoidable part of life, stress is responsible for causing more than twenty-three million Americans to lay claim to some type of anxiety disorder (Hart, 1999). In what is organized in a more or less self-help format, Hart presents several alternatives to suffering as he suggests ways in which clients may learn to cope with everything from pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), to panic attacks, to post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD), to name a few. In addition to his theoretical approach, Hart emphasizes the theological when outlining the importance of looking to God as the ultimate Counselor and emotional Healer (Hart, 1999).
Beginning with a lesson in biochemistry, Hart (1999) explains the link between the neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) (deemed the “happy messenger”), and cortisol, which he terms the “sad messenger” as he differentiates between worry and true biological anxiety. Stress causes an imbalance in the brain between these messengers. A balance between these two is paramount if one hopes to avoid an anxiety-dominating situation. An imbalance of brain neurotransmitters will manifest negatively in the physical body. The biochemical reaction which occurs when life’s stressors are left unchecked may lead to panic attacks or precipitate other serious health concerns (Hart 1999).
Hart (1999) insists a number of considerations must be employed when attempting to avoid such an assault. Initially, the correct type and dosage of medication must be prescribed, followed by lifestyle changes and alteration of thought processes. Hart believes the answer to less anxiety is not more medication and suggests relaxation techniques, laughter, maintaining a positive outlook, adequate rest, and meditation all combine to help one balance out the brain’s chemistry and avoid serious health consequences which may occur when the tranquillizers in the brain are upset (Hart, 1999). Hart concentrates his efforts in these other areas and spends a portion of the book cautioning against the extended use of psychopharmacological agents (Hart, 1999).
Secondary to panic attacks are the learned responses to fear (Hart, 1999). Hart states in order to take control of fear and anxiety, one must remember God’s resources are sufficient to help one cope; reminding the reader that Jesus had to fight to empower Himself to overcome feelings of dread in His experience in the Garden of Gethsemane. With God’s help, self-empowerment is the key to achieving peace and surviving the ravages of anxiety which are capable of plaguing a person long-term (Hart, 1999). The process of resolution may be thwarted if one resigns to a victim mentality. Therefore, Hart encourages anxiety sufferers to purpose to be the victor, maintaining a courageous attitude while embracing the hope God gives (Hart, 1999).
Hart (1999) offers several plans to assist in overcoming anxiety. In accordance with combatting the habit of worry, a seven-week plan is suggested. Methods of meditation and spirituality are addressed, taking care to caution against reducing the experience to that of Eastern religions. He reminds the reader that scripture encourages meditation on God’s law (e.g. Psalm 1:1-2, Psalm 19:14) (Hart, 1999). That being said, this author noted several instances