From the man who brought us the ``inner child'' (Homecoming, 1990—not reviewed), here's a new serving of psychobabble aimed at the maladjusted: an exploration of the ``mysterious power of love'' and how to attain it. One doesn't doubt Bradshaw's sincerity, especially as he packs this book with revelations about his mixed-up childhood, failed bid for the priesthood, lousy marriage, and alcoholism—with such disclosures being part of the ``original pain work'' (Bradshaw is a whiz at coining jargon) toward the ``reclaiming of the inner child.'' What one questions is his taste, for this resembles nothing more than a mound of Turkish delight, gooey sugar base with bits of real food buried here and there. Bradshaw encourages renewed relations with God, oneself, lovers, and the world—sage advice, but to be attained by enduring a barrage of New-Agespeak (``as you looked into your source figures' faces, you were psychologically born. Your original oneness with yourself was either soulfully mirrored and validated or rejected and invalidated''). Translated into English, Bradshaw seems to be saying that we deceive ourselves and others (a ``mystification quiz'' helps measure the degree); that patriarchy is to blame; and that we can come to see reality through a process that includes mental exercises such as returning to childhood and getting mad at our parents, ``inrage to outrage'' being part of ``grieving your own grief.'' Good grief! Only then can we create ``soulful'' love with ourself and others. Sometimes Bradshaw's advice sounds solid (championing the virtues of silence); at other times, perverse (encouraging anger; terming the belief that one's love can change others—a fundamental principle in many religions—a sign that ``you are in a trance''). One wonders whether Bradshaw will leave confused readers yet more confused—thus making them ideal clients for the self-help gurus. Soon to be a PBS series—during the afternoon soap hour, one hopes.
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