Jim Wilder sat at Christmas dinner but could not lift his hand. Even though he was only two years old he was having a stroke. Soon it was obvious that he was spiking a high fever that proved to be viral meningitis – the disease portrayed in the movie Awakenings by Robin Williams and based on the book and true story of Dr. Oliver Sacks. He was a very sick boy and his community prayed urgently for him. Everyone else who had become ill in the epidemic was dead. Instead of being in a wheelchair, mentally retarded or in a perpetual coma Jimmy was soon walking with the help of a brace. As a boy with an uncertain and challenging future, Jimmy read biographies of the doctors who discovered the causes and cures of plagues. He was taking pictures through his microscope of unidentified protozoa by the time he was 12.
At age 19 Jim witnesses his first miraculous healing from a psychological trauma. Having grown up during extreme violence in Colombia (an estimated 250,000 people were brutally killed and danger was everywhere) he has seen the results of violence and trauma. Once he saw trauma healed by prayer, his interest in trauma recovery began. Here was a worldwide, unhealed epidemic from violence, abuse and war! Jim acquired a masters in theology and a doctorate in psychology that led to work with veterans, Nazi death camp survivors, addicts and abused children. He has spent over 30 years at Life Model Works (formerly Shepherd’s House) leading trauma treatment programs. As a supervisor, Jim consistently received the most damaged people and continued his search for recovery for those considered untreatable by all known therapeutic means. By the mid-1990s trauma recovery was an established field but the estimated cost of recovery for one person with severe, life-long psychological trauma was estimated at fifteen million dollars. Doctor Jim knew there needed to be a better way or most of the traumatized people in the world would never be helped. He had already seen a miracle and he was a walking miracle.
Before the days of brain scans Doctor Jim worked in the VA hospital doing brain evaluations using the methods developed by the famous Russian doctor Luria. Doctor Jim built research equipment and even designed and built computer circuit boards for research projects. Doctor Jim combined the work of the genius UCLA medical school professor known as the Einstein of psychiatry, Dr. Allan Schore with the work of the Nobel prize winning doctor Gerald Edelman, Dr. Guillio Tononi and the brain scan work by the well known Dr. Daniel Amen and added the materials by Dr. Oliver Sacks, Dr. Daniel Siegel, Dr. Antonio Damasio, Dr. Vilaynur Ramachandran, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk and others and combined them into a form that can be taught to third-world peasant farmers with no education and still amaze career neurologists. At the center is the power of joy to passing a thriving human vitality from generation to generation. If you are human this will make sense deep in your genes and if you know your science it will be brilliant.