Cover Image: In Pursuit of Calm

In Pursuit of Calm

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Member Reviews

Thank you for your candid story, including the highs and lows, episodes where suicide seemed like the only answer, and the way addiction stayed dormant within you all those years, just waiting for the right trigger to surface.

I greatly appreciate the altruistic mentality of sharing your story to show the rough patches along the way, but also the eventual "calmness" and tranquility that you have reached. I hope writing this was cathartic and helpful.

To anyone considering reading this, do it. It truly is an inspirational testimony, even though at times, it is challenging to keep reading and may tap into uncomfortable situations or memories of your own.

I know I have addictive tendencies, especially during stressful times, and suspect other readers do as well. I can relate to the author's frustration and "learned helplessness" as he describes his work as a psychologist in a broken medical system. I encourage all to read this and consider correlating the author's story with challenging times in your life. What can we all learn?

Dr. Fuselier, thank you for writing this. Please know you and your family are in my prayers. Please all, use Dr. Fuselier's words to grow and learn from
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''While lying in bed that night, the alcohol kept talking, telling me that drinking with friends equated to happiness.''

This is how Daniel Fuselier describes his feelings after a first encounter with alcohol. In 'In Persuit of Calm' dr. Fuselier, now a clinical psychologist, describes his lifelong struggle with addiction. As he himself describes is, the main goal of the book is ''to give addicts a resource, perspective, and recovery tool that is rarely ever found in the healing arts''.

I had very high expectations for the book. A book about addiction told from the perspective of a clinical psychologist. That would certainly give amazing insights and some deep level of self-reflection. Maybe it was exactly because of these high expectations that the book disappointed.

In the beginning of the book, dr. Fuselier describes his troubled childhood. Child of divorced parents, he lived between two homes: his father with big alcohol and drug parties and his mother who remarried into an unhappy marriage. We get some highly detailed descriptions of early childhood memories, of social anxiety in school, and how alcohol and drug use slowly took over a larger and larger part of young Daniels live. The descriptions are relatable and colourful, and really provide a clear look on how minor psychological difficulties can become bigger and darker, especially when alcohol and drugs are used as coping mechanism.

In the continuation of the book dr. Fuselier describes his further upbringing in New Orleans, his college experiences filled with parties and substance abuse, and his freelancer working career going around several places in the US. He describes some actual traumatic events and how he got exposed to painkillers and tranquilizers.

But then halfway through the book, he completely lost me. After a stay in prison, dr. Fuselier describes a ''transformative mythical experience''. Although I certainly believe dr. Fuselier experienced a moment of revelation of some sort, in the book that's just it. Cleared of any addiction for the next 20 or so years. Of course, many people that struggle with addiction get to a certain breaking point where they realize that they HAVE to make some changes. But to simply wake up one day and be completely transformed? I'm not sure how relatable or useful on a road to recovery that is.

The continuation of the book describes dr. Fuseliers career path, his family life and mainly what feels like his fitness journey. No descriptions of troubles with addictive substances. No rather than that, dr. Fuselier describes that even though he sometimes got exposed to certain medications, he never felt any urge to fall back into old patterns. Until he did.

The final portion of the book then describes his severe fall back and long road to recovery. Although I do think that this is a part that will feel much more relatable, the author had already lost me at that point. The book is mainly a detailed description of major life events, but the level of introspection that I would have expected from a clinical psychologist is not provided.

In addition, dr. Fuselier seems to have a rather negative standpoint towards modern day psychology and psychiatry. A quote from the book:

''A major flow in psychological diagnosis is not accounting for quantum mental change... The reason the profession does not recognize quantum change is a simple matter of narrow-minded skepticism and use of a scientific method that can't begin to capture the magnificence and immeasurableness of such experiences''.

And:
''Drugs are entirely unnecessary if environments and relationships in them either change for the better or are healthy to begin with. The same is true for all of society. As our world became more chaotic and stressful and health conditions worsened, pharmaceutical companies took to drugging entire populations''.

Maybe I'm that professional with ''narrow-minded skepticism'' that believes in modern day psychiatry, with it's flaws but most certainly with many benefits. There are just some major points I wished that dr. Fuselier, especially as a mental health professional would have further elaborated on. Like how one can't just cold-turkey quit with alcohol. How many tranquilizers need to be slowly reduced. How addiction is actually a livelong progress, for which it takes afford every. single. day. not to have a drawback. Elaborating on societies view of addiction, if the author is so critical on society. Or on the current ways that addiction is treated within the addiction care centers.

Like the author concludes ''Mental health professionals who are addicts have a unique opportunity to use our illness and recovery experiences to benefit others''. I can't agree more. I just don't think this book matches this statement.
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Even though I haven’t lived a life remotely like Daniel Fuselier’s, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much sympathy for someone before.
Surviving drug abuse and alcoholism in two separate “drinking lives” and an accident which causes third-degree burns over more than half of his body, Daniel recounts how he was able to turn his life around by “direct physical and mental contact with a spiritual entity”. 
Growing up in New Orleans, childhood trauma led him to resentment and hatred of his father and his new wife - the “Stepmonster” - but he discovered a bond with his father through his first taste of alcohol, ultimately leading to wild partying in high school and the start of his alcoholism.
Lyrical passages relate his blissful school days filled with fun and friendship. Drinking became Daniel’s way of easing social anxiety but this leads to destructive behaviour and accidents. He always seems on the edge of achieving something but self-doubt always prevents him. Once he achieves his goals, we rejoice with him. 
“In Pursuit of Calm” is a harrowing yet rewarding read, and it doesn’t matter whether or not you believe in spiritual entities, the reader can still take a lot of comfort from this inspirational book.
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