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Anatomy of the Soul: Surprising Connections Between Neuroscience and Spiritual Practices that Can Transform Your Life and Relationships

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  1,114 ratings  ·  131 reviews
Do you want to improve your relationships and experience lasting personal change? Join Curt Thompson, M.D., on an amazing journey to discover the surprising pathways for transformation hidden inside your own mind. Integrating new findings in neuroscience and attachment with Christian spirituality, Dr. Thompson reveals how it is possible to rewire your mind, altering your b ...more
Paperback, 282 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by Tyndale Momentum (first published May 10th 2010)
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Debbie
May 16, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
"The Anatomy of the Soul" wasn't very well written. The information on how the brain works was information I already knew--mostly things I learned 14 years ago in college.

I found the writing repetitious and unnecessarily wordy and complex. The author made up new, Christian-sounding terms for some old, proven ideas I've heard elsewhere and then put in a lot of filler ("this really changed this guy's life, so keep reading to learn how!) or repetition before revealing a pretty simple concept. To gi
...more
Josh Morgan
Jun 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review first appeared on my blog, Jacob's Café.

Anatomy of the Soul by Curt Thompson, MD, a psychiatrist intrigued me as it lands squarely in the middle of the integration of modern mental health science and spirituality. This is the first book I received from the Tyndale Blog Network for review that particularly lands in my area of expertise (for those who don't know, I'm a licensed psychologist with an undergrad degree in Religious Studies).

What I appreciate about Thompson's work is that i
...more
Adam Shields
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short Review: Anatomy of the Soul is broadly divided into two parts. The science and background about neurology, trauma, attachment, emotions, the prefrontal cortex, etc. and the shorter spiritual implications to our understanding of sin, repentance and forgiveness, and community.

Because I have read pretty widely on spiritual direction and discipleship and I have a background in social work, I didn't find the section section as engaging as the first, but I do think it was helpful in pointing out
...more
Chris Schutte
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A creative proposal connecting spiritual formation with insights from modern neuroscience. His vision of the Christian life as one of "justice, mercy, and love" is deeply compelling.
Jeff Hobday
Jan 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent read on how our life experiences affect the mind and how that shapes our spiritual lives. As Thompson explains, it goes the other way too; our spiritual practices (prayer, scripture reading, fasting, confession) shape how our minds develop. This book is not overly academic or technical -- I haven't studied biology since freshman year of high school, and I could understand the science. It's full of anecdotes from his experience as a counselor and psychiatrist, as well as insightful read ...more
Eileen
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book, really opened out my horizons. The psychiatrist author explains how the brain develops in infants and children, how babies need to interact with adults in order for the brain to fully mature. Explains what the different hemispheres of the brain do and suggests ways to integrate the two halves. All from a Christian perspective. I will definitely read this book again, at least once.
ⓒ 2010
Bill Rotan
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A sure book to read if you want to understand yourself.

I was very impressed with this book and writer. The work that has been discovered about the brain is breathtaking. I am going to read it again in order let what I read stick to my mind
Andrew
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Being known deeply by another is not only one of our inmost longings. It also, according to Curt Thompson, changes us and our brains in profound ways. We are not brains in isolation. As much as we may cling to and defend our individualism, our brains (and so how we relate to the world) are changed significantly by those we meet, greet, know, love, hate, live with, and work with.

Thompson, a board certified psychiatrist, easily moves back and forth between brain science, Scripture, and the stories
...more
Scott Wozniak
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book started with the basics of neuroscience and psychology, and I worried that it would be just another rehash of the same stuff. But he steadily got deeper and deeper into the theology and neurology. By the end there were some beautiful sections, such as the exploration of God's desire to relate to us emotionally and the implications for not just controlling our negative emotions, but cultivating strong healthy emotions. It was both deep and practical and I'm a better man for having read ...more
Christine Norman
What does having the "mind of Christ" or "being transformed by the renewing of your mind" really mean, I have often wondered. Dr. Curt Thompson explains how a relationship with God in Jesus, spiritual disciplines and a confessional community of believers can rewire our brains. Neuroplasticity is a fascinating subject, but is often described from a completely materialistic viewpoint. I really appreciated this integration of science and Christianity. My book is underlined and dog-eared, so I can r ...more
Kara Cutler
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Some parts were a bit redundant and some could have been written a bit less textbook-y, but overall, some really practical information for any Christian who wants to grow in their understanding of how our brains work and how this knowledge can bring us closer to Christ and into more secure attachments/relationships with one another. So valuable!
Daunavan Buyer
Oct 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was really helpful. Lots of stories, scripture, and science are weaved together to really explore what it looks like to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds.” At times this book was a bit over my head and I found myself skim reading a bit but I completely understand what the author was trying to do. Lots of practical tips are presented here and I look forward to applying them in the days/weeks ahead.
Lou
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was very informative. There are things that seemed unfinished, and that’s the reason I didn’t give it 5 stars.
Jambean8
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great blend of science and religion and how they actually work together, not in opposition, to make us whole beings. I appreciate the depth and scope of what is covered here.
Beverly
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It was a brain-wrecking process to read such a book! Haha! But I believe that if one is willing to be mentally and spiritually healthy, he/she must read this book. It entails processes from our childhoods that might have had affected our attitudes and behaviors, perception of God and of life, and even in our interpersonal relationships. If your an advocate to mental health, self-growth and development, it's a must-read.
Nick Richtsmeier
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is incredibly important. With precision and grace Thompson connects the dots between mindfulness, current understandings of neuroscience and the historical spiritual practices of Christian faith to help us understand what it really takes to overcome of formational environments and their limitations. Standing perfectly at the intersection of embodiment theology, scientific research, psychotherapy and Christian discipleship, I devoured every word.

I find myself near daily integrating a th
...more
Benjamin
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazingly well written and eye-opening book. Thompson does a great job of going deep into neurology, psychology, etc and implications for faith and relationships without being overly technical. I was also pleasantly impressed with the way he wisely wove scriptural truths. There were several points in the book where I started worrying he was going to make a statement that contradicted clear Biblical truth, but without fail he would give the Biblical answer.

Would highly recommend this book to any
...more
Rachel
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is actually my second time to read this book, but after reading his newer book The Soul of Shame, I wanted to go back and refresh my memory on some of the core concepts he discusses. It is really interesting to think about how God designed our brains and how the Gospel, and love, and forgiveness all heal the brokenness in us, not just spiritually, but in real physical ways as well. The concepts will take more time for me to think through and learn about, as I didn't follow everything he sai ...more
MattandBetsy Nolan
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Curt uses each part of his humanity, education and experience to unite faith and science. This fascinating book brings into focus the mind, body and soul connection. He acknowledges up front this is a book about his faith, Christianity, specifically a faith that follows the Bible. While relevant to other faiths or from a medical perspective it may be more difficult to follow. The epilogue and last chapter are excellent but it's unfortunate he waited so long to include the more practical side of ...more
Miranda
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I rarely give a five star review, but this book is amazing. I have read books from a Christian counseling perspective, and books on neuroscience as it pertains to parenting (The Whole Brain Child), but I have never seen an author synthesize their expertise on the brain with their deeply thought out beliefs founded in Scripture in quite this way. It is a very insightful and healing book, and also gives a wealth of information to explore in the bibliography. I found this to be a fascinating, and e ...more
Kevin
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good insights to neuroscience present understandings of how our brains work and how they augment biblical principles in being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Could be a bit tedious. Definitely challenging when you go about applying what you have just read. It has been helpful to me personally and I feel I have gained in the healing of my brokenness and the bettering of my relationships. I will probably read this again to get a deeper impact.
Amy Zimmerman
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found this book to be very helpful in connecting neuroscience and spirituality. The book is easily followed until the end where I got a little lost. I found it very helpful for understanding trauma and attachment. I also loved how he brought in scripture and redemption of our relationships with God and each other. I'll be keeping this one to refer back to when needed.
Ryan
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
It really felt like this book broke some new ground for me and complemented some other things that I'm learning. It's also refreshing to feel like there is not just a peaceful coexistence with faith and psychology and neurobiology, but that faith actually offers a more complete way to access and leverage our understanding of these topics.
Frances
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a very interesting book and one I would recommend to everyone who is looking to answer the questions about why they react in crazy ways in some situations, how they can get their life on track, and why isn't their Christian walk working for them. Working it all out is not for the faint-hearted but at least they will know what is happening.
Lance Hill
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m biased as a counselor, but I think everyone could benefit from reading this book.
Joe
Jan 12, 2016 rated it liked it

Points for reflection:
Chapter 1
Pg 3 being known - This seems to me to be a primary need of human beings - to be fully know and to be fully loved. This of course cannot be done in a fallen world by fallen humans.

Attention - pg 3 notice he mentions no only paying attention to what is outside but also what is in our minds - our feelings, emotions, and thoughts. What a novel thought.

Under Sin and redemption on page 4 he states like Adam and Eve we are more interested in right and wrong - a dominant
...more
Vaclav
Dec 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
An interesting book, for sure. It promises help, and that's why many people like it because we look for what works. I do like some clarifications on some things regarding sin and the neuroplastic triad somewhere at the end of the book. He analyzes some things about us pretty accurately, but he doesn’t seem to take into account enough of the importance of the power of prayer, spending time in God’s Word and beholding Christ through whom the change from within comes by God’s powerful and gracious ...more
Missy
Oct 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Chapter 2: "To be known is to be pursued, examined and shaken. To be known is to be pursued, examined and shaken. To be known is to be love and to have hopes and even demands placed on you."

"The degree to which you know God is directly reflected in your experience of being known by him. And the degree that you are known by him will be reflected in the way in which you are known by other people. In other words, your relationship with God is a direct reflection of the depth of your relationship wi
...more
Kelly
Nov 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Do you want to improve your relationships and experience lasting personal change? Join Curt Thompson, M.D., on an amazing journey to discover the surprising pathways for transformation hidden inside your own mind. Integrating new findings in neuroscience and attachment with Christian spirituality, Dr. Thompson reveals how it is possible to rewire your mind, altering your brain patterns and literally making you more like the person God intended you to be. Explaining discoveries about the brain in ...more
Cassi
Apr 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This book had some good takeaways, even though I admittedly took a long time to slog through it. The author is a Christian psychiatrist who discusses at length the neurological activity happening in spiritual matters. I found some points interesting and helpful. After all, God designed our brains, and the stuff going on in our hearts and minds is neurological in nature, even if it remains mysterious. I particularly appreciated his emphasis on knowing and being known, and on training ourselves to ...more
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Inspired by deep compassion for others and informed from a Christian perspective, psychiatrist Curt Thompson shares fresh insights and practical applications for developing more authentic relationships and fully experiencing our deepest longing: to be known.

With a considerable dose of warmth (and surprising measure of humor), Curt weaves together an understanding of interpersonal neurobiology (IPN
...more

News & Interviews

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” That’s Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani human rights...
17 likes · 3 comments
“Remember that emotion is not a debatable phenomenon. It is an authentic reflection of our subjective experience, one that is best served by attending to it.” 7 likes
“Being known. Our Western world has long emphasized knowledge—factual information and “proof”—over the process of being known by God and others. No wonder, then, that despite all our technological advancements and the proliferation of social media, we are more intra- and interpersonally isolated than ever. Yet it is only when we are known that we are positioned to become conduits of love. And it is love that transforms our minds, makes forgiveness possible, and weaves a community of disparate people into the tapestry of God’s family. Attention.” 2 likes
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