Recommended as a top-tier psychological self-help manual that cogently systematizes the benefits of compassion and empathy.



This self-help manual teaches the basics of behavioral change through a careful, compassionate program based on being fully present when interacting with others.

Drawing upon her extensive experience in nursing, hospital administration and health-care practice, Donadio presents a practical manual illustrating how to change one’s behavior through a system she calls “Behavioral Engagement.” For all relationships, central to this method is “pure presence”—a state of being fully present when communicating with others, while dropping any preconceived notions of how the other person should or will act. Pure presence helps the participant utilize a nonjudgmental connection based on positive, empathetic emotions, shifting away from anxiety associated with compulsive and destructive behaviors. Among the techniques Donadio offers her readers are the maintenance of soft eye-focus during social interactions, listening to others with receptive patience and respecting patches of silence during conversations. Conveying to others how much you respect their self-directed decision-making process is one of several noteworthy, often overlooked practices. By employing these skills through the step-by-step instructions in each chapter—accompanied by questions that prompt critical self-reflection—Donadio believes readers can alter behavior in order to benefit from integrating various emotions and actions in a new light. Several studies (some referenced in the book’s footnotes) support her conclusion that this system of Behavioral Engagement can create sustainable behavioral change. Written in a simple, convincing style familiar to followers of pop psychology—though without the shallow oversimplifications rampant in much of that genre—Donadio presents a solid if not strikingly original case for the transformative power of receptiveness as she capably synthesizes principles drawn from diverse sources, such as Carl Rogers and Buddhist meditation. The sole weakness of her book is the familiar, persistent depiction of America’s burgeoning health problems that she believes, optimistically, Behavior Engagement can help overcome. Much of the text portrays those circumstances, although deeper descriptions of her therapeutic method would have been welcomed instead. Nonetheless, a few graphs and colorful cubist illustrations help break up the black, white and sometimes gray areas in the study of human interaction.

Recommended as a top-tier psychological self-help manual that cogently systematizes the benefits of compassion and empathy.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983965992

Page Count: 142

Publisher: NIWH

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah’s default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war’s...


 The traumatic homecoming of a wounded warrior.

The daughter of alcoholics who left her orphaned at 17, Jolene “Jo” Zarkades found her first stable family in the military: She’s served over two decades, first in the army, later with the National Guard. A helicopter pilot stationed near Seattle, Jo copes as competently at home, raising two daughters, Betsy and Lulu, while trying to dismiss her husband Michael’s increasing emotional distance. Jo’s mettle is sorely tested when Michael informs her flatly that he no longer loves her. Four-year-old Lulu clamors for attention while preteen Betsy, mean-girl-in-training, dismisses as dweeby her former best friend, Seth, son of Jo’s confidante and fellow pilot, Tami. Amid these challenges comes the ultimate one: Jo and Tami are deployed to Iraq. Michael, with the help of his mother, has to take over the household duties, and he rapidly learns that parenting is much harder than his wife made it look. As Michael prepares to defend a PTSD-afflicted veteran charged with Murder I for killing his wife during a dissociative blackout, he begins to understand what Jolene is facing and to revisit his true feelings for her. When her helicopter is shot down under insurgent fire, Jo rescues Tami from the wreck, but a young crewman is killed. Tami remains in a coma and Jo, whose leg has been amputated, returns home to a difficult rehabilitation on several fronts. Her nightmares in which she relives the crash and other horrors she witnessed, and her pain, have turned Jo into a person her daughters now fear (which in the case of bratty Betsy may not be such a bad thing). Jo can't forgive Michael for his rash words. Worse, she is beginning to remind Michael more and more of his homicide client. Characterization can be cursory: Michael’s earlier callousness, left largely unexplained, undercuts the pathos of his later change of heart. 

Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah’s default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war’s aftermath.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-57720-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?