An innovative approach to sound psychoanalytical therapy aimed at men normally averse to self-help guides.

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BUILDING BETTER RELATIONSHIPS

A GUIDEBOOK FOR MEN

A former mechanical design engineer turned therapist introduces classical Freudian therapies to troubled hardhat and lunch pail guys in need of a psychological lift.

Guided imagery and free association are no longer the exclusive psychoanalytical tools of the sensitive ponytail types of the world. Swaniger has beefed up introspection and the art of self-help with a meat-and-potatoes approach to recovery that turns enlightenment into “On the Job Training.” The premise is simple: the problems screwing up your life and leaving you unfulfilled today are rooted in your past. Your job as someone endeavoring to become a better husband, son, father or friend is to construct a shovel-ready bridge to that past, identify the trouble and return to the present with new knowledge about how to behave in a manner more beneficial to you and everyone else in your life. It’s decisive, proactive and thoroughly masculine. Unresolved pain and angst from the “there and then” arrive almost daily in the “here and now” via “taxi cabs” and “bullet trains.” Swaniger’s approach is shrewd without pandering. It appears to be born out of a simple acknowledgement that a guy who enjoyed bashing Tonka trucks around as a kid is now probably a little squeamish about taking a couch trip as an adult. The core therapy—practiced for many years and widely recognized as effective—remains intact; it’s the presentation and administering that has been given a slightly macho tune up. Readers are encouraged to keep strict progress notes in order to chart their success and to reflect upon what they have learned. The author, who overcame his problems with alcohol, employs a tone that is friendly and supportive throughout, while remaining ever mindful of the resistance inherent in his target audience. Those finding themselves growing frustrated with the work are continually urged to put the book aside and return once their negative feelings have subsided. Some of the exercises—such as one prompting readers to imagine meeting their parents as children—can be quite powerful. Constructing a bridge into the unconscious mind is a tough job, and, in the end, it takes guts.

An innovative approach to sound psychoanalytical therapy aimed at men normally averse to self-help guides.

Pub Date: March 10, 2009

ISBN: 978-1439222263

Page Count: 156

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2011

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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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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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