We live in anxious, sleepless times. Statistics on anxiety and depression in this country are mind-boggling: some 40 million Americans have some kind of anxiety disorder. What about phobias? Too many of us are afraid of something, whether getting stung by an insect, bit by a dog, or picking up a terrible disease on the subway. That’s why Dr. Robert T. London’s book, Find Freedom Fast: Short-Term Therapy That Works (Kettlehole Publishing, February 2019), is so reassuring. The book offers a straightforward method for overcoming anxiety, phobias, PTSD and insomnia — by ourselves, in the safety and comfort of our own homes. It’s also a seasoned psychiatrist’s take on what ails psychiatry, from circuitous bouts of talk therapy to pharmaceuticals with harmful side effects.
Dr. London isn’t surprised that so many people don’t seek treatment. He’s seen it himself. He describes the early stages of his own career, when he realized that he could apply cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques to people who wanted to stop smoking or lose weight. He saw that faster forms of therapies had the added affect of making a patient feel better in general about themselves and life. In solving a problem such as emotional eating or chain smoking, they had participated actively, had to practice, and saw the results themselves. They had a new way to conduct themselves and overcome emotional challenges. And felt more self-confident and able to face the world. As he writes, “The result, I’ve found, is far larger than the solution itself.”
The core of the book isn’t a critique of psychiatry and psychotherapy — although Dr. London makes his opinion clear. The primary focus is teaching readers all about his proven approach. It’s called LPA, which stands for Learning, Philosophizing, and Action.
In this three-step process, the first step is taking a problem — for instance, Everytime I have to think about speaking at this presentation, my heart starts racing and I get to anxious I can’t breathe. In this step, it’s key to focus closely on the problem and learn everything about it: when it happens, how it happens, how it makes you feel.
Philosophizing is calling the behavior and the condition into question: How did I get this way? Was I always this way? Was someone in my family this way? It’s a process of discovery that also sets a boundary between you and the problem — and you begin to see it in other ways. Perhaps it’s not as bad as you think it is. Perhaps you won’t lose your voice at the podium — as Dr. London would point out, it’s possible, but is it probable?
And that leads to the third phase, in which you take specific actions. You might make a possible/probable chart. Or do what’s called a split-screen technique, in which a picture of what you fear is conjured up and then specifically replaced with a picture of what brings you happiness. Practicing this method seems to reset the brain, and defuse the anxiety reflex.
This is a simplistic explanation at best, but the point is, this book is a roadmap to emotional wellness with a promising and simple method. If you follow it, you may well feel better, and break free from whatever has been weighing you down for years. This is a technique that Dr. London has used in countless patients, as he recalls, and he’s perfected it by now. To help understand more about the process, there are also plenty of case histories — pastiches of real-life patients with real-life problems that he was able to help. All of them got better by doing plenty of work on their own, practicing the exercises and taking small steps to their own freedom.
There’s a great section on dealing with insomnia, and an insightful discussion on PTSD, which Dr. London notes if woefully under-treated, and misunderstood. With his caring and personal style, but clear breadth of knowledge, he’s an author that inspires trust.
Truly, for a self-help book by a psychiatrist with a decades-long career, this book is surprisingly warm. One gets the sense that he truly wants to help people — he’s not just pitching a method. As he writes, “Because we are people with souls and spirits and psyches …. solving that one problem can have enormous results. [It] can help resolve problems in other areas as you learn and use these techniques as new issues arise in your life. These kinds of results make this short-term, three-part therapy as profound and life-changing as it gets. “
This is a book that promises to deliver on its premise, and bring hope to many who have lived with anxiety, phobias, PTSD or insomnia without relief. I encourage readers to see for themselves.
Learn more about Dr. Robert T. London and his new book at findfreedomfast.com.