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SERWAN ZANGANA: Depending On Their Purpose, Books Can Be Healthy Or Harmful

The discussion of different types of books and the way they benefit humans can lead to long or even endless arguments. However, the effect of books on the human brain and hence their power to change behavior is undeniable. Books are powerful tools in the modern era.

But we need to realize that no human words are sacred and thus books are one of the man-made products, so not every book can be provide guidance for life. Indeed, some books (not based in truth) can be destructive and harmful to society.

Psychologists and health experts always advise how reading books has an impact on our lives and can change behavior. Dr. Philip Glickmam, Director/Licensed Clinical Psychologist at Wellness Road Psychology in New York City, believes that reading self-help books can be a tool for healing and personal growth.

But the question is: can all the books be trusted and relied on, especially for children and youths? Indeed, this question is the subject of controversy. However, there should not be confusion that the psychologist’s suggestion of reading books as therapy is limited to certain groups of people and types of books.

For example, a person suffering with PTSD is not advised to read books that include subjects such as combat, childhood abuse, sexual and physical assaults, and some other accidents. These situations can cause a flashback in the person’s mind and trigger his or her PTSD.

There is a thin line between the benefit and the risk of books, especially when it comes to education and therapy. Moreover, the age group should also be considered in determining what books can be beneficial. Books can be deceptive, depending on the writers.

Since the brains of children and youth are more vulnerable, exposing them to certain books can be risky. Books are easy tools to re-educate, brainwash, and instill ideas in younger minds. Throughout history this practice has not been limited to one specific group or system.

According to the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, the Uyghur Muslim children in Far West China are being re-educated in camps run by the communist Chinese government. Of course, books and literature are tools in such camps. The purpose of this process is to raise a generation loyal to the Communist Party and erase their faith identities.

Furthermore, after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia that established the Communist USSR regime, the government targeted all religions. Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and Buddhist books and literatures were all restricted, and those religious books were all replaced by the government-published books on atheism. Source: Early Soviet Anti-Religious Propaganda (Merrill C. Berman Collection).

In the 1980s the Iraqi regime was publishing and distributing hundreds of books that falsely and deceptively portrayed the 1968 Baath Party bloody coup and thus justified the ruling Party’s grip on power.

Apparently, determining the benefits of books depends on understanding their purposes. Books cannot be safe for the sake of books only. Through books society can be turned upside-down. On the other hand, books can be a guide and self-therapy.

– Serwan Zangana supported Operation Iraqi Freedom as a U.S Army translator before coming to the U.S from Kurdistan, Iraq in 1997 to seek political asylum. He was granted asylum status and years later proudly became a U.S citizen. He currently serves as a correction officer in Roanoke.



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