UNDERSTANDING LOVE AND THE BETRAYAL OF FRIENDSHIP by Ronald Cowen

UNDERSTANDING LOVE AND THE BETRAYAL OF FRIENDSHIP

KIRKUS REVIEW

All you need is love. Or at least a cognitive psychological process that fosters intersubjectivity.

In an attempt to help the reader “become a more loving person,” Cowen (Interpersonal Enlightenment, 2005) argues for what he calls “insight,” based on a conviction that human beings, even infants, are more intelligent about interpersonal dynamics than commonly believed. He spends considerable space disputing popular psychological methods, especially psychodynamic, or Freudian, psychology, as well as the mechanistic behaviorism of B.F. Skinner. Because he devotes his early chapters, which are injected with hearty doses of jargon, to this negative strategy, the author relegates his text to the realm of academic exercise–though he seems to have more far-reaching and practical goals. The text displays the style and structure of a dissertation, and some of Cowen’s dismissive language occasionally becomes exaggerated. For example, he declares Noam Chomsky’s criticism of B.F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior “devastating,” and he several times notes that another writer “must be called to task.” His chapter-length critique of psychotherapy, however, is quite systematic, as is his argument against Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve-Step Program. When the author speaks in practical terms, the text becomes more engaging. His argument against the spanking of children is quite persuasive, and when he eventually describes his theory directly, in the fifth chapter, the text’s style and structure loosen. Cowen ends by inviting readers to enter their own insights on his website: “Let there be no doubt that your insights are important to everyone, not only because of their intellectual content, but because they will inspire others to seek their own needed insights.” Hopefully, contributors will deal in clearer terms than the author.

Occasionally compelling, but generally dry.

ISBN: 1425955568
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: