Book Review: Anatomy of the Soul
The value in Curt Thompson’s Anatomy of the Soul is completely dependent upon what you’re looking for. As a introductory text in a practical application and integration of psychological ideals with the Christian life, this is a fairly decent book. Thompson is readable and obviously well-practiced in helping to guide others along the way toward healing and growth, and his integration of those principles with Scripture is quite helpful, though I do question a couple of his interpretations when he seems to apply a significant amount of psychological analysis to a small amount of information in a text. While the end seems to unravel a bit, the majority of the text does carry a theme throughout, building on it nicely and providing the occasional very practical discipline to work with.
On the other hand, as a text in neurological science as applicable to Christianity, it falls rather short. His admits to this and points to other texts in a bibliography as more useful for this, but the marketing of it, at least so far as the title and book jacket are concerned, still imply that it is more neurologically rigorous than it is. In fact, I’m not certain much of the neurological information provided is necessary or useful. Much of the time, what is explained in neurological terms could be just as easily explained psychologically. In fact, Thompson falls prey to various neurological myths and outdated ideas that only serve to call his scientific acumen into question. The use of the triune brain model can provide some help for categorizing neurological functions, but more recent science tends to muddle it, making it perhaps somewhat helpful but not entirely accurate. In addition, he almost seems to fall into the trap at one point of characterizing the right brain as emotional and the left as logical, an often seen but incorrect picture.
So if one is looking for a nice introduction to being mindful of the emotional life and the way that it is tied together with the Christian life and growth, this isn’t a bad book to work so long as one takes his treatment of the neurological information as a bit loose and unscholarly.