Books by Samuel Osherson

Released: June 1, 1995

Psychotherapist and research psychologist Osherson (Wrestling with Love, 1992, etc.) offers a manual for men living with children at the end of the 20th century. It's not easy being a father, writes Osherson, and it's even harder to be a good father. Osherson illustrates this point with many examples but mostly by using his own life as a case study, exploring his conflicts and epiphanies, failures and triumphs as the father of two young children. This honesty comes perilously close to the triteness of talk-show confessionals, but it also gives the book its strength. In clearly written and often moving accounts, Osherson recognizes his imperfections as a father and explores the causes of his anger or impatience or the mistakes he has made with his children. In the end, he allows himself to be imperfect and extends the same grace to his readers. It is understandable that modern fathers have such a rough time, writes Osherson. Life used to be much simpler: Fathers would go out and earn a living or fight a war and leave the women in charge of home and family. Today, he writes, men feel caught between wanting ``to go out and slay the dragon'' and being sensitive and caring co- parents; between envying their own fathers' freedom and resenting their physical and psychological distance. It is unfortunate that Osherson fails to deal at length with fathers whose experiences are significantly different from those of white, middle-class, heterosexual professionals like himself, and he doesn't talk at all about being the father of children who are disabled, troubled, or ill. Still, many fathers will find deep resonance with their own feelings of frustration and reward. A passionate book written for men passionate about fatherhood, shedding much light on the relationship between men and their children. (author tour) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1992

In the broadening wake of Iron John and Fire in the Belly comes an equally strong entry that focuses on conflicts common to men—between the need to connect and reluctance to do so, for example—and comes up with highly viable strategies and trustworthy solutions. Aimed at the mainstream population, this is an articulate, organized discussion that examines the pressure points in life and a complex network of attitudes and experiences that too often interferes with their resolution. After noting the difficulties that men have expressing anger, sorrow, love, and, especially, dependency, Harvard Health Services psychologist Osherson (Finding Our Fathers, 1986) looks closely at particular adult connections—with women, children, older parents- -and offers important insights deriving from everyday situations. ``It's not that men don't feel,'' he observes. ``It's that men often manage feelings in ways that wives don't understand.'' He goes on to record how grief, shame, and anger can obscure love; how women may evoke need and shame at the same time; and how struggles at work may be rooted in family dynamics. Pointing out the distancing effects of competitiveness or distrust, stressing affirmation and reconciliation, acknowledging the tenacity of resistance to change, Osherson recognizes the sources of many male attitudes (of ``manliness'' in particular), the competing voices men hear, and the need to name one's loneliness (men, he says, use a coded language when discussing feelings) and to have it heard. Throughout, he uses workshop exercises to demonstrate the process of self-discovery, and, in revealing the impact of a father's love on a grown man, he teaches lessons to the fathers of young boys. Easier to read than to act on, more moderate in tone than Bly or Keen—a lucid and perceptive offering. Read full book review >