Chris Cooper PhD

Putting the Personal and Intangible Back into Healing

Michael Kearney. A Place of Healing: Working with Nature and Soul at the End of Life. Spring Journal Books, 2009.

(Click on the thumbnail to see the book on Amazon.com)


This book takes the position that modern medicine (the medical
model) is invaluable, but has become divorced from other ways of working with patients which could support their emotional lives and
help with the existential questions brought about by illness and the idea of impending death. Dr. Kearney looks to the ancient Greek god Asklepios and the history and mythology around Asklepian healing for an approach that could (and in his hands does) complement modern medicine. This approach uses Depth Psychology, dreamwork and the idea that it is who the healer is – not what she knows – that matters in helping with these existential concerns.

The book is divided into five sections. The first sets a context for what is to come with an overview of healing and curing, pain and suffering and some of the experience of patients with chronic or incurable disease. The second section takes us into ancient history and describes the types of curing and healing available in ancient times. Here Dr. Kearney goes into detail about the origins and ideas of Asklepian healing. The third section focuses on the theoretical grounding of Dr. Kearney’s work with chronically ill and end of life patients. Section four describes the type of knowledge and education a carer or healer needs to work with these patients and describes in some detail two types of workshops that can be implemented to train carers (who may or may not be trained psychotherapists). The final section describes in detail two case studies illustrating the use of Dr. Kearney’s methods. Dr. Kearney’s work is strongly influenced by Jungian Psychology and Depth Psychology and uses dreamwork extensively.

The book is beautiful in the way that Dr. Kearney integrates creative material such as poetry, literature, and visual art into his prose in order to illustrate and help his reader understand on an emotional level what he is discussing at an intellectual level. The book is packed with information and incorporates liberal use of ancient texts and quotations from Jung and others. It would be of interest to mental health professionals who enjoy the use of this artistic and intellectual material and are interested in Jungian approaches to Health Psychology or End Of Life issues, together with those who are interested in learning about dreamwork for use in this context. The book is sometimes challenging, and would not be appropriate for those who are unfamiliar with or uninterested in complementary approaches to medical treatment and/or dreamwork and/or analytic approaches to healing.

292 pages; 269 pages of text + Bibliography & Further Reading, Index

Psychologists can obtain CE units by reading this book. See IlluminatedEd.com for more information.