An insightful perspective on clinical and spiritual recovery.

POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH

THRIVING IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY

A self-help book about using trauma as a catalyst for personal development.

Ungerland, a psychologist and seminar leader, offers a well-researched guide to a psychological theory called post-traumatic growth. She defines it as “an empirical model...for turning crisis into expansion” with seven stages, and she illustrates it with stories of several people who’ve emerged from traumas (whose names have been changed). Brad, for example, was a victim of fraud; Sarah lost her legs after being hit by a car; and Jane stayed in a dysfunctional marriage. The interview subjects show significant commonalities; for example, during the initial “immobilization” phase, patients believed that their issues were truly insurmountable, and only after mourning their losses could they move forward: “The truth will set us free, eventually, but first it will make us suffer,” Ungerland writes. Jane “spent years in denial” about her marriage before accepting its failure, but after a period of grief, she had an epiphany: “I knew that if I continued life as it was, I was going to get physically sick, that it could kill me. That was the morning that I started to be different.” This type of revelation takes place during the model’s third phase, Ungerland writes, “once we have reached a point of utter surrender.” During the remaining steps, subjects envisioned happier lives for themselves and developed useful traits, such as flexibility and autonomy. The book includes several unsurprising recommendations, such as meditation, journaling, and pursuing therapy. However, Ungerland adds depth to the book by incorporating poetry by Rumi, historical anecdotes, and colorful metaphors, as when she describes post-traumatic growth as “a GPS of the soul.” The seven stages can seem overly linear; surely, some patients regress before moving forward again, and this possibility remains unexplored. But the book is especially informative about escaping a mentality of victimhood, which requires hope: “Maybe the first step is to realize that we will somehow be held and nourished, often when we least expect it, by a friend or by a perfect stranger…or by a moonrise on a river…anything can heal us.”

An insightful perspective on clinical and spiritual recovery.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59715-210-5

Page Count: 211

Publisher: Chapel Hill Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 29, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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