Book Feature: Demons and Devils by Amanda Jayne Forbes





This is a compelling story about the evil that lives among us from day to day. There are many demons and devils. You may ask how one may know the difference. To most people, you may not, but I have realized from a young age that I have an exceptional ability to see through people—I mean, right through people. Sometimes it was as if they were not there at all. Then I realized this was some sort of block from that particular being. I would go, like, completely blind. It would be like a warning that this person is from what we call the dark side.

Book Feature: The Trials of Allura by Dina El Shammaa





Allura’s life is a testament to the strength and resilience of educated Middle-Eastern women in the modern age, who are railing against a life that makes little sense, with all its twists and turns. A tower of courage and energy, her enthusiasm to challenge life’s obstacles and temptations reflects some of the mind-blowing hardships various women face. Bound by passion, linked by need, Allura offers readers a better understanding of life in a cross-cultural environment, where women are wrongly perceived by the outside world as spoilt, reclusive, and vulnerable. Social constraints, family upheavals, and unexpected tragedies force Allura to stand on her two feet at a young age and make life-changing decisions, which is when her whole world begins to unravel. Join Allura on her extraordinary journey of highs and lows, humorous encounters, and fateful experiences, which transform her from a shy and sheltered teenager to a courageous, resolute, fiery, and tempestuous woman.
An author inspired by innocence, simplicity and beauty, Dina El Shammaa’s extensive writing background helps her uncover unexpected daily occurrences that affect the lives of millions of women in the region and beyond.

Book Feature: Iniquities of Gulch Fork by Bob Smith and Sara Rhodes






In the worn and tired town of Gulch Fork, Arkansas, certified nursing assistant Samantha Caminos heads to her patient Rob Dean’s home and wonders how she can find common ground with the aloof, disabled Vietnam veteran who suffers from not only PTSD but also severe neuropathy caused by Agent Orange. As Samantha approaches the house, she has no idea that very soon their lives will take a new turn. Gulch Fork, a town once filled with Ozark tranquility, takes on an aura of evil when bizarre events begin to affect Rob and two other war-scarred veterans, Peter Ness and Ron Woods-Samantha’s father. But when Samantha learns that two elderly couples without living relatives in the area have fallen prey to fraud and embezzlement by a man who claims to be a pastor, she sets out on a quest to piece together a complex mystery fueled by those hell-bent on taking advantage of citizens too fragile to defend themselves. In this compelling novel based on true events, three veterans seeking peace and serenity from PTSD fall victim to injustice, prompting a young health care worker to investigate the evil that has infiltrated their once peaceful Arkansas town.

Bob Smith is a naval officer who had Agent Orange spilled on him in Vietnam and suffers from severe PTSD in addition to disabling neuropathy. After living in Spain, he returned to America and settled in the Ozarks, where he is happily pursuing his dream of writing. Sara Rhodes is a wife, mother, and certified nursing assistant who originally lived in Alaska before moving to the Ozarks with her family. Bob is her former patient whose teachings about PTSD helped her recognize her own father’s battle with it. Both Bob and Sara find animals to be a great source of comfort.

Book Feature: Demons and Devils by Amanda Jayne Forbes





This is a compelling story about the evil that lives among us from day to day. There are many demons and devils. You may ask how one may know the difference. To most people, you may not, but I have realized from a young age that I have an exceptional ability to see through people—I mean, right through people. Sometimes it was as if they were not there at all. Then I realized this was some sort of block from that particular being. I would go, like, completely blind. It would be like a warning that this person is from what we call the dark side.

Book Feature: Great Objectives by Robert Finch





In his book Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill refers to the great objects of human life. We may assume that that what Mill calls an object is the same as an objective in modern parlance. The examples of great objectives that Mill cites include power, fame, and money. One wonders how seriously Mill was actually endorsing such aims to be the overarching objectives of living or whether he was simply expressing his finding that many people actually do take such aims as these for life. The contention is that Mill was indeed recognizing that people do choose such goals in life. After all, happiness has been recognized as an objective of life at least since the time of Aristotle, and virtue has a similarly ancient pedigree. It is quite common for ordinary people to adopt such mottos as “Healthy, wealthy, and wise” as aims for life. But we know that having more than one such value can lead to conflicts. This had been a concern to Sidgwick as well as other nineteenth-century moralists. A resolution to the problem was found by the time of the twentieth century, when it was realized that we should not try to achieve definite objectives, but instead look to some other procedure, such as a variety of evolution, to shape our objectives. In that case, we make plans and evaluate them, as we proceed. We should use our values, as Dewey recommended, for guideposts. The book discusses the methods of arriving at such plans and weighs some of the ethical and moral problems an individual or a society might face at the present time.
Robert Finch is the author of five collections of essays and co-editor of The Norton Book of Nature Writing. He broadcasts a weekly commentary on NPR and serves on the faculty of the MFA in Writing Program at Spalding University in Louisville, KY. He lives in Wellfleet, MA.

Guest Post from Raymond Floodgate, author of Life 2 the Full






Life 2 the Full is a self-help book that shows the reader how to improve health and well-being by preventing Illness from happening in the first place. This book will guide you through the elements needed to help you live your life to the full. Life 2 the Full covers such subjects as health and well-being, food, exercise for the body, and exercise for the mind. Stress is also covered in this book, including ways to eliminate it. Other topics include breathing, relaxation, meditation, money, and abundance. The goal is to help the reader achieve a life that is lived to the full. If you are struggling with your life through constant recurring illness, stress, food-related problems, or lack of purpose, Life 2 the Full will teach you how to change the life you are living now into a life that you never thought possible. The book is written in plain English, is easy to understand, and will give you an insight into how easy it is to change your life should you want to.

Guest Post
There is no mystery about living life to the full. Once you know about
it, it is obvious. It has always been there but you just probably didn’t think
to look. It is not something that is taught in schools, even our teachers have
not been taught it.  It is not a part of
the curriculum at any level of education, so why should you know about it?  Our society has totally overlooked this way
of living and opted for the “get more money and grab everything you can” type
of existence. However, when you live life
to the full
, your life becomes rich and abundant in every way and this can
be obtained with little effort on your part.

Every society today, associates wealth as money and
possessions, which is a very narrow view of what wealth truly is.  Money and possessions are absolutely a part
of wealth but only a small part.
Raymond Floodgate is a certified Reiki master and teacher, a qualified practitioner of energy healing, and an energy healing teacher. He was a practitioner and instructor of Shotokan karate for twelve years but now focuses on preventing illness. To this end, he has studied Tai Chi, Qigong, and meditation.

Book Feature: My Brain is Out of Control by Dr. Patrick Mbaya





Although Dr. Patrick Mbaya’s illness caused a lot distress and nearly took his life, the emotional symptoms of the depression he developed helped him understand and empathize with patients and how they feel when they become ill. In My Brain is Out of Control, Mbaya, fifty-five and at the peak of his career, shares a personal story of how he suffered from a brain infection in 2010 that caused loss of speech, right-sided weakness, and subsequent depression. He tells how he also dealt with the antibiotics complications of low white cell count and hepatitis. He narrates his experiences as a patient, the neurological and psychiatric complications he encountered, how he coped, and his journey to recovery. Presenting a personal perspective of Mbaya’s illness from the other side of the bed, My Brain is Out of Control, offers profound insight into battling a serious illness.


Depression is a common illness, different from
ordinary sadness, which is a normal reaction. It
can affect anyone, including doctors like myself, and indeed I suffered from
this, during my illness. It is not a weakness.
It may occur spontaneously in vulnerable
individuals, like someone with a family history of depression. Severe
stress or traumatic events in childhood, may also make an individual vulnerable
to developing depressive illness, later on in life. Recent research has shown
that this could be due to the effect of stress hormone cortisol, on the
developing brain. Severe stress or loss events (like losing a family member)
can cause (precipitate) it. In my case the brain infection I suffered, affected
the limbic/emotional brain (see below).
Emotions, and certain
controlled by the limbic (emotional) brain. This is like a circuit
comprising of connections from the brain stem (stem of the brain), to the front
part of the brain (prefrontal cortex, the part in front of the motor cortex),
then to the medial (inner side) of the temporal lobe structures like amygdala
and hippocampus. In my case, it is the left prefrontal cortex, which is next to
the motor cortex (which caused weakness on my right side) and the speech (Broca’s)
There are different theories about the biological
causes of depression within the brain. However, there is a lot of clinical, and
research evidence that depression is associated altered levels of chemicals
(neurotransmitters) that control emotions, and

. The two
main chemicals (neurotransmitters) being serotonin and noradrenaline (also
known as norepinephrine). These chemicals are made by the brain from the food
we eat, like bananas (I asked my daughter to get me bananas during my recovery
phase). Emotions and
behaviours like mood, sleep, appetite, enjoyment,
concentration, short-term memory, energy, and some forms of thinking are
controlled by these chemicals.
There is both clinical, and research evidence that
these chemicals become imbalanced, causing symptoms of clinical depression
including persistent low mood, tearfulness, poor sleep, lack of enjoyment, poor
concentration, short term memory, reduced interest in things, poor appetite,
feeling negative (like
focussing on past traumatic or unhappy events, or being
emotionally affected by current sad events) up to including suicidal thoughts.
(Recent research has shown that amygdala become very active in clinical
depression, negative traumatic past events tend to re-surface and the
individual becomes pre-occupied with these events, feels hopeless,
worthless, and has suicidal thoughts, and these symptoms are reversed by effective
treatment of depression). 
symptoms tend to be worse in the morning (diurnal variation, possibly related
to high levels of the stress hormone cortisol) and can improve later on during
the day. Like in my case, my mood was worse in the morning. “I was emotional and found myself crying
without a moment’s notice.”
As depressive illness can affect confidence,
energy, motivation, concentration, short term memory, level of functioning is
impaired (the ability to carry out activities of daily living, even to the
point of being unable to work,
socialise or to go to school). The World Health Organization
(WHO) found out in a study (1990), comparing medical illnesses, that depression
was four in the league table, as a cause of health-related disability. They
estimated that by 2020, it will rank second to heart disease!
Current research has shown that severe stress
increases the levels of stress hormone cortisol, which in turn reduces
serotonin, noradrenaline, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF, also
known as brain fertilizer, which protects against cell death by cortisol),
in the brain, causing depression.
Antidepressants work by increasing these chemicals/neurotransmitters
(improving symptoms, and level of functioning), and may protect against severe
stress causing depression. Psychological treatment like cognitive behavior
therapy (CBT), is also effective in depression, especially in combination with
antidepressants. Current guidelines recommend psychological treatment for mild
to moderate depression, and antidepressant medication, plus psychological
treatment for moderate to severe depression.
Dr Patrick Mbaya MD FRCPsych.
References: Cancel reply
Duman Ronald. Depression: a cause of neuronal life and
death. Biological Psychiatry, 1 August 2004, vol.56:140-145
 Cancel reply
Global Burden of Disease, World Health Organization,
Mbaya Patrick. My Brain Is Out Of Control. Author
House. September, 2016
Shimizu Fiji et al.  Cancel replyAlterations
of serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in depressed
patients with or without antidepressants; Biological Psychiatry, 1 July
2003,Vol 54(1): 70-75
Stahl Stephen M. Essential Psychopharmacology,
Neuroscientific Basis and Practical Applications. Second Edition.  Cambridge University Press.




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Stress and Plasticity in Limbic System, Robert M.
Sapolsky; Neurochemical Research, Vol. 28, No. 11.
Dr. Patrick Mbaya is a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry. He is a consultant psychiatrist and honorary clinical lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. He has a special interest in mood and addiction disorders.