WHY DON'T YOU LISTEN TO WHAT I'M NOT SAYING by Judith M. Katz

WHY DON'T YOU LISTEN TO WHAT I'M NOT SAYING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This presents--in popular format--an ""alternative"" for those put off by the more traditional schools of psychology, where, the author contends, the individual is simply the product of events and circumstances. Here the idea is that we shape our own sense of reality through the meaning we attach to each event--and it's our insistence that we alone possess an ""accurate"" picture of reality that makes for much of the disharmony and misunderstanding among people. The author quite willingly goes into some of the factors that affect our idiosyncratic interpretations: cultural assumptions (our universal tendency to cringe at the phrase ""spoiled child""); concentration on the unexpected (our survival instinct), and disregard of the expected; frequency of the experience (""In ambiguous situations, we see what usually happens, not necessarily what is happening""); context; and sequential probability (hearing the doorbell, we expect someone to be on our doorstep when the door is opened). One of the most potent forces in determining what we see is, apparently, what we expect--under all circumstances: if we look for sibling rivalry in two brothers' haggling over a toy, we are apt to find it and even, it is hinted, to create it. This is all right insofar as it presents an antidote for the poor-little-me, look-what-my-parents-did-to-me approach to psychology; but it probably swings too far in the opposite direction in its absolute insistence that ""The assumption that we do (or can) see objectively is false."" Is it so outlandish to propose that when two people recollect a conversation differently, one may actually be accurate while the other is off base? Still, an interesting, potentially helpful approach--within its limits.

Pub Date: Sept. 4th, 1981
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday