Kirkus Reviews QR Code
BUILDING BETTER RELATIONSHIPS by Jim Swaniger

BUILDING BETTER RELATIONSHIPS

A Guidebook for Men

By Jim Swaniger

Pub Date: March 10th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1439222263
Publisher: CreateSpace

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.