NOT TO WORRY: The American Family Book of Mental Health by

NOT TO WORRY: The American Family Book of Mental Health

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Despite the stately subtitle: an uneven, poorly organized hodgepodge of reasonable but superficial psychological advice--padded out with platitudes, mini-lectures; and plugs for the Karen Homey school of psychotherapy. Relying largely on Q & A examples (Dr. Rubin wrote a Ladies' Home Journal advice column), the authors divide their book into three sections. In Part I, ""The Family,"" there are a few pages each on honeymoons, married sex, infidelity, divorce, the decision to have (or adopt) children, child-rearing, schooling, and family relations. (""Bring Back The Generation Gap."") Sometimes the coverage is focused, if thin: Do's & Don'ts for ""Helping Children Survive Divorce""; a list of warnings for would-be adoptive parents. More often, however, important subjects receive spotty treatment: bed-wetting gets one short paragraph, for instance, almost all of it dealing with the non-psychological causes in some cases. Part II, ""Personal Issues,"" offers brief glances at relationships, self-image problems (breast-size, etc.), obesity, vacation blues, money worries, retirement, and psychotherapy options--but here the text more frequently slips into verbose psychosermonettes. (""I would like to start with the premise that all of life is a growing experience. This means that in our present economic slump there are certain steps we can take to keep ourselves from slipping into an emotional slump and help us become more fully developed individuals--more human to ourselves and others."") And Part III, ""Feelings,"" is weakest of all--with ""A Sex Mental Health Quiz,"" ""The Most Asked Questions About Sex"" (impotence receives a two-sentence discussion), and generalizations about envy, jealousy, mourning, depression, anger, anxiety, and happiness. (""Happiness, to me, is feeling good, just that, feeling good."") Throughout, the sample questions are often too bland to be engaging--yet too specific to suit the reference-book intentions here. Some of them are pointless (""Do you believe in E.S.P.?"") or self-servingly phrased. (""I know that you wrote two books on the subject and are an expert on the psychology of obese people."") The Homey-school propaganda is likewise out-of-place in a would-be Family Guide. So, notwithstanding Dr. Rubin's familiar byline (and basically sound ideas), readers seeking first-level advice will do far better with two or three of the clearer, less all-inclusive handbooks.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1984
Publisher: Viking