In Klein’s debut nonfiction self-help book, the author turns a critical eye toward talk therapy and questions its ability to help a person change his life for the better.
The author begins with a quick history of his life and explains that after years of wrong turns, guilt and regret, he finally turned to therapy—and spent several more years analyzing the reasons behind his “hangups.” Unfortunately, he writes, such analysis often keeps a person stuck in a less-than-ideal life and convinced that he’s controlled by forces he cannot change. Klein explains that self-perception drives one’s ability to move forward, make decisions and grow; if we allow our self-perception to be defined by outdated life events, such as the way our mothers treated us, we can never reach our full potential. Using a series of anecdotes about anonymous friends and acquaintances, Klein argues that it’s easy to see direct solutions for someone else’s situation, but when one looks inward, one’s often blocked by age-old emotional “tricks,” such as insecurity. As an example, Klein writes of how he stayed too long in an unhappy marriage to a highly critical woman since he grew up with a critical mother. Internally, he believed that he was meant to stay in an unhappy situation and work on it rather than accept that things were fundamentally not going to change. But Klein is careful to point out that his mother didn’t cause him to stay in the marriage—he caused himself to stay; his mother caused him to build self-protective emotional walls, and that made him stay in an unhappy relationship. As the author points out, a person can spend a lifetime in therapy understanding the “why” behind his decisions, or he can just shrug off the three major “cancers” of blame, regret and hatred and actively decide to make better choices. The book is written in a straightforward, conversational tone and reads like tough love from a close friend.
An honest, edgy and highly logical explanation of why analysis doesn’t always work.