The Battersea Park Road to Paradise I bought this book simply because it was vaguely local - I had seen it advertised on a poster on the London Underground, at Vauxhall or Pimlico station.
For some reason I thought it was fiction, and assumed that it was in the style of the chick-lit writers who have aged beyond Bridget Jones, but aren't necessarily Yummy Mummy novelists. I hate these labels, by the way. Imagine if we decided to label Dan Brown or Andy McNab in similar ways. There'd be an outcry.
The writer of this book claims it is a factual account of her own life, her search for an answer to what was hinted at as 'man trouble'. It was slightly puzzling, because there is no doubt she is thoughtful, intelligent and educated. And yet, this book describes five different experiences in self-enlightenment where she tried to deal with the emotional loss. She never seemed to be floundering emotionally, but recognised that she needed treatment, perhaps in the way that one seeks out treatment for a persistent dodgy knee.
She attached a fairly healthy level of scepticism and doubt to the therapies she tried - Feng shui; self-help guru Anthony Robbins; Silent Retreat; Advaita Vedanta; and Shamanism, but yet she never seemed to question their basic premise.
I found this thought provoking, because I tend to ask the question 'What is the evidence'?' and believe in very little. On the other hand, I have experienced and read sufficient to persuade me that there are benefits to be gained from many psychological boosters. The strict 'it must be tested double-blind and peer reviewed or else it's nonsense' brigade appear to have little insight into psychology and human behaviour. For example, I don't care if there is no scientific evidence to prove that aromatherapy works - if I sink back into a smelly bath with smelly candles, it relaxes me and makes me feel better - but I wouldn't suggets it's a suitable treatment for severe depression.
But my main concern about both mainstream and alternative therapies is the monetary aspect. I imagine Isabel Losada has made more money from sales of her books & associated talks and media appearances than she spent on researching the experiences, and therefore, for her, they were good investments. I'm not sure how other people can guard against being ripped off. I tend to be cautious at anything that's 'on-trend' and pricey; the person behind is usually, foremost, an astute business operator.
I read this partly on holiday on a Greek island, where I had taster sessions for Yoga and Tai Chi, and visited tourist sites that were lasting tributes to the belief in Ancient Greek gods, so I had a heightened awareness of 'belief systems' and their seeming randomness.
I don't think she did find The Answers in the five therapies she tried, but I do think that they gave her an opportunity for reflection and self-examination, which I think is the goal of mainstream and alternative pseudo-psychological treatments. I can't see a problem for 'normal' well-balanced people with a particular problem or sadness, but I do fear that these offbeat experiences could be quite destructive to mental wellbeing of people who need informed and professional support.
On the whole, I enjoyed the book, although I found the section on Advaita a big turn off. I've just looked at her site, and realise that I recognise Mooji. It seems like one big personality cult. Also, she was very dismissive of Brixton, as being about drugs and the Ritzy, and men who were shaggable because of their exotic dark skins. It's mostly pretty readable, but I didn't feel any great identification with or warmth towards any of the characters - real people - including the author. If I was a more voracious reader, perhaps I would read more of her books, but not in preference to dozens of others I 'ought' to read.