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A broad, textbook-like approach to changing others, with enough lists and sublists to turn off all but studious sorts. Psychologist McGill (The 40-to-60-Year-Old Male), assures us that it's not impossible to change others, not unethical, and not more trouble than it's worth. He fudges slightly on who benefits from the change: wanting to improve our relationship with significant others is a sign of our ""commitment and caring,"" yet the ""real reason"" we want others to change is ""so that we might feel better about ourselves."" As described here, it's largely a matter of self-affirmation: we tend to accept suggestions for improvements that will enhance or confirm our self-image, deny those suggestions that threaten us, and react apathetically when our self-image isn't greatly affected. McGill divided relationships into three sorts (romantic, familial, and ""outsider""), then did some questionnaire research to discover the things most of us wanted to change about others. For example, wives wanted to improve their husbands' communication and their manner of conducting sex; husbands wanted more understanding and more frequent sex; equity was a predominant concern among friends and in the workplace. There are all manner of excuses for not changing (habit, ignorance of the other person's feelings), but the root problem appears to be uncertainty: how will the change affect the established self-image? McGill discourses on the common methods of effecting a change: use of power/coercion, as in the spanking of a child; appeal to the person's more rational nature (""disconformation""); the ever-popular appeal to one's sense of guilt; and creating a psychologically ""safe"" atmosphere for trying new wings. Despite literally hundreds of examples to illustrate the various points and categories, a bit academic for the average self-help audience--though there may be takers among today's make-over zealots.

Pub Date: June 14th, 1982
Publisher: Simon & Schuster