THE MYTH OF NEUROSIS: Overcoming the Illness Excuse by Garth Wood

THE MYTH OF NEUROSIS: Overcoming the Illness Excuse

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No matter how you may react to The Myth of Neurosis, you'll have to admit that its author is not a man who thinks small. Among Wood's avowed purposes in writing this treatise on what he calls ""Moral Therapy"" is to expose the principles and methods of modern psychotherapy as ""rubbish."" Neuroses, according to him, do not exist; they are simply excuses for antisocial behavior, handy outs for those seeking to avoid the consequences of their acts. The misery they seem to engender springs from a failure of ""the neurotic"" to obey the dictates of his own God-given conscience, thus engendering feelings of guilt and unworthiness. ""Pull up your socks,"" Wood advises the so-called neurotic, ""use your will power. Get in touch with your conscience and do what it tells you is 'right.' Once you've exorcised those guilt feelings, you'll be on your way to self-esteem and a better tomorrow."" It is significant that Wood refuses to recognize the possibility of a ""faulty"" conscience, one that fails to find anything reprehensible in actions generally regarded as immoral. Even Aquinas took such aberrations into account; Wood is more sanguine about human perfectability. A corollary purpose here is to return society to traditional, i.e., pre-Freudian, certainties. There is little doubt that the author's espousal of such ""old-fashioned"" concepts as morality, ethics, and conscience will appeal to the many who view America in the 80's as an example of permissiveness run riot, of a society without standards. Most of Wood's tenets are, in fact, the sine qua non of conservative conversations from Weehawken to Wauwatosa. Self-reliance is all; social betterment programs are run by and taken advantage of by ""spongers,"" or worse. Life is hard, of course, but it can be mastered by anyone with ""gumption"" and a will to succeed. ""Action,"" not ""thinking,"" is what's called for, according to Wood. Sure to cause a stir on those many fronts where its premise will be deemed revelatory. Otherwise, social Darwinism with buzzwords.

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 1985
Publisher: Harper & Row