Books by James R. Averill

Released: April 13, 1992

A deep, wide-ranging, and scholarly exploration of emotion by two psychologists who assert that this area of human nature is much more subject to our control and creative transformation than is commonly believed. Drawing on the writings of poets, artists, philosophers, and other psychologists, and grounding their own somewhat abstract concepts in fascinating examples selected from their therapeutic practices, Averill (Psychology/UMass at Amherst) and Nunley (a Texas clinician) discuss the nature of emotion and the myths surrounding it (e.g., that emotion is biologically determined; that it is the same for both sexes and across all eras and cultures; and that it necessarily holds us in an unshakable grip). The authors present evidence from other cultures and times that show a great variety in such supposedly universal and primary emotions as love and anger, and they go on to explore the nature of creativity and suggest that an ``ART'' of emotion (``Acquisition, Refinement, and Transformation'') is possible. After examining the most common conditions that challenge and facilitate our emotional development (death and dying, pain and pleasure, intimacy, solitude, freedom, autonomy, imagination, the arts), Averill and Nunley recommend five steps to foster an emotionally creative life (making a commitment to remain emotionally flexible; being knowledgeable about the possible range of emotional responses, etc.). Provocative but stronger in theory than in practical application—and further examples of people who replaced uncreative emotional responses with more authentic and effective ones would have enhanced the closing prescriptions. Still, overall, rewarding- -if demanding. Read full book review >