BUCKHANNON — Fresh off the press is another inspiring book by famed local author, Dr. Greenbrier Almond, MD. When this Christian psychiatrist and author was faced with the government mandated order to shelter at home, he got busy writing. Within a short time, Dr. Almond had penned a relevant read for this current pandemic time period. “We had the opportunity,” he explained. “This was the time to write a book!”
Coping with Crisis: A West Virginia Doctor’s Perspective is a sampling of insights, encouragements and guidance from Dr. Almond’s many years of compassionate holistic healthcare. Divided into four parts and accompanied by illustrations from his four young granddaughters, Coping with Crisis offers wise counsel in distinguishing and overcoming tragedy, while providing the reader comfort during the traumas of life.
Part 1 of Dr. Almond’s new book is a presentation on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which was accredited by the American Academy of Family Physicians in 2006. He stated, “I believe there are potentially valuable insights that we can use today as we deal with the current coronavirus pandemic and its inevitable aftermath.” Coping with Crisis: A West Virginia Doctor’s Perspective is a reflection of Dr. Almond’s expertise in this study. Filled with information to help identify and combat PTSD, the book offers several helpful techniques that can assist anyone who has the desire to live a happier and more peaceful life. A wise statement from the doctor advised, “For general mental health, we should all take inventory all the time.”
Dr. Almond explained to The Record Delta that the February 1972 Buffalo Creek disaster in Logan County helped set the stage for new medical research regarding trauma and its aftermath. The coal mine dam failure was an incredibly traumatic event for many families. The survivors were reported as being “very different” than they were prior to the flood and many were finding it difficult, if not impossible, to readjust healthfully. He said Yale University came to West Virginia to help research the individuals who’s lives had been completely upturned in the event. Hence, the research for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was developed in West Virginia. “By 1980, PTSD had become a recognized entity and had been written up as a legitimate disease in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual. Treatment options were also offered up,” he asserted.
During this time, soldiers were returning from Vietnam and oftentimes were radically changed and traumatized. As Chief of Psychiatry at the Louis A. Johnson Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center for 12 years, Dr. Almond was well equipped to help treat PTSD patients and encourage dramatic improvements. “Ive spent my career fighting the Vietnam War,” he said of the 50 years he’s been helping these patients. Dr. Almond stated that what we have come to call PTSD was the same traumatic response that was referred to during the Civil War as “Soldier’s Heart.” During World War I and World War II, the suffering was given the names “Battle Fatigue” and “Shell Shock,” respectively.
In Part 2 of Coping with Crisis, Dr. Almond offers a few personal reflections in the form of journal entries. These unique and poignant stories offer a glimmer of hope during difficult times. “I encourage everyone to journal. What can you learn about that might surprise you? Journaling can be very important if you’re going to live a life that’s purposeful with a goal-oriented direction for the future,” he stated. Here, you’ll find a good sampling of the doctor’s insights and wisdom through short stories.
Part 3 is the write-up of a presentation Dr. Almond shared in 1999, as key speaker to the North American mission program known as Camp Farthest Out. It was presented as a healthcare revolution in alternative medicine. Titled “Healing, Health and Wholeness of Body, Mind and Spirit,” this section gives a glimpse into the Christian principles that are foundational to CFO North America. These are the same foundational principles on which Dr. George Parkhurst, Senior Psychiatrist at Oral Roberts University’s City of Faith Hospital, founded their psychiatric program. “I had the pleasure of being there for two years working with George,” said Dr. Almond. “That’s the way we practiced psychiatry. We sang wonderful charismatic songs. We had creative activities every day for our patients.” These are just two examples from the book which describe a holistic prescription for health, based on the fundamentals of Christianity.
The final section of Coping with Crisis is a lecture given by Reverend Paul L. Flanagan in the 1920s. Still relevant today, this powerful message was given by the oldest minister in the history of the Methodist Conference of West Virginia. “I thought to myself, ‘This is Timeless! We should print this,’” said Dr. Almond of his grandfather’s sermon. “He was a radio preacher who traveled a broad area to give this particular sermon.” Facing debilitating tuberculosis and isolated away from society, the sermon encourages people to “look on the bright side.” The coronavirus pandemic mirrors somewhat the quarantine, isolation, hospital beds and death that tuberculosis brought to West Virginians during Reverend Flanagan’s ministry. Almost 100 years later, the wisdom he shared with us is “just as vital today.”
Coping with Crisis: A West Virginia Doctor’s Perspective is already touching lives of people across America. “Because of the nature of the book, we have sent a copy of it to the 30 largest churches in America which have libraries.” This includes the Billy Graham Ministry and Max Lucado’s Oak Hills church in Texas. “We anticipate that some of the churches will pick it up and order 10 copies, a hundred copies,” he expressed. Also, as a member of the Upshur County Board of Education, Dr. Almond has given each employee a copy of his book. Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus has endorsed the book to the school district employees and has set aside four weeks in which employees can study and discuss the book contents virtually through Zoom. The book study began Thursday evening and will continue over the next three Thursdays.
“We’re a fractured society. We have to start a healing process. I don’t know if we have a tool like this out there, but I will endorse anyone’s effort for healing. We’ve never been this close to a dark age where we don’t trust, where we don’t move freely about the nation. A sports season next year? Who we elect as president or what our taxes will be? There are so many things that are ugly about what is happening to us. But we will survive! I believe maybe this book will help,” Dr. Almond stated.
Copies of Dr. Greenbrier Almond’s newest book Coping with Crisis: A West Virginia Doctor’s Perspective can be purchased at Artistry on Main in Buckhannon, where you can also find his other fine publications.