Calling such strategies “logical” may be overstating his case, but Bader's treatise does cast light on the murky and largely...

AROUSAL

THE SECRET LOGIC OF SEXUAL FANTASIES

An insider's look at what goes on behind the scenes of our desires.

Drawing on more than 20 years' experience as a psychoanalyst and therapist, Bader attempts to provide a useful guide for both the layperson and clinician regarding the meaning and purpose of our erotic daydreams and sexual fantasies, the “theatrical” setting for arousal. Noting the high number of Americans who purport to be dissatisfied in the bedroom and citing his patients' case histories, he contends that despite the relative permissiveness and hedonism of our culture, guilt and worry still hold sway. The cornerstone of Bader's theory is his contention that the primary concern of our unconscious minds is our physical and psychological safety. In this context, one's fantasy life becomes a sort of “canary in the mine” indicating either a healthy or oppressive atmosphere. Sexual fantasies, which he equates with sexual preferences, set and maintain these safe conditions, thereby permitting arousal. The real source of problems both in and out of the bedroom, as Bader sees it, are the pathogenic beliefs we hold and act upon. (“Sex begins in the mind and then travels downward,” he declares.) These beliefs comprise our views of reality as seen through the distorting lens of childhood shame, rejection, and helplessness, which lead to sexual inhibitions and a whole array of self-defeating behavior. Approached in this manner, bondage, group sex, voyeurism, fetishism, gang rape, asphyxiation, and the many other consensual “roles” Bader touches on, become the imaginary means to a pleasurable end. Sexual fantasy becomes “a sign of health, a way to solve problems,” so-called “kinky” scenarios simply implying a more convoluted route to safety.

Calling such strategies “logical” may be overstating his case, but Bader's treatise does cast light on the murky and largely unexamined question of why sexual fantasies turn us on.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-312-26933-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better...

EVERYTHING IS F*CKED

A BOOK ABOUT HOPE

The popular blogger and author delivers an entertaining and thought-provoking third book about the importance of being hopeful in terrible times.

“We are a culture and a people in need of hope,” writes Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, 2016, etc.). With an appealing combination of gritty humor and straightforward prose, the author floats the idea of drawing strength and hope from a myriad of sources in order to tolerate the “incomprehensibility of your existence.” He broadens and illuminates his concepts through a series of hypothetical scenarios based in contemporary reality. At the dark heart of Manson’s guide is the “Uncomfortable Truth,” which reiterates our cosmic insignificance and the inevitability of death, whether we blindly ignore or blissfully embrace it. The author establishes this harsh sentiment early on, creating a firm foundation for examining the current crisis of hope, how we got here, and what it means on a larger scale. Manson’s referential text probes the heroism of Auschwitz infiltrator Witold Pilecki and the work of Isaac Newton, Nietzsche, Einstein, and Immanuel Kant, as the author explores the mechanics of how hope is created and maintained through self-control and community. Though Manson takes many serpentine intellectual detours, his dark-humored wit and blunt prose are both informative and engaging. He is at his most convincing in his discussions about the fallibility of religious beliefs, the modern world’s numerous shortcomings, deliberations over the “Feeling Brain” versus the “Thinking Brain,” and the importance of striking a happy medium between overindulging in and repressing emotions. Although we live in a “couch-potato-pundit era of tweetstorms and outrage porn,” writes Manson, hope springs eternal through the magic salves of self-awareness, rational thinking, and even pain, which is “at the heart of all emotion.”

Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better world alive.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288843-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2019

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