Psychological exercises to help individuals recover from abusive relationships.
Stosny (Love Without Hurt, 2008, etc.) is a consultant on anger management and family violence who conducts workshops worldwide. In this manual, he offers a pathway to recovery based on maxims similar to those found in books such as Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking. Stosny cautions that being angry has “potent analgesic and amphetamine components that temporarily numb pain and provide a surge of energy to overcome perceived threat,” which can be addictive. Instead of being reactive, the author counsels allowing “ourselves to be guided by deeper values more than temporary feelings.” All of the exercises are to be done in writing. The first counterpoises a negative, self-critical attitude, such as “I'm gullible, a fool, too trusting,” with the affirmation, “I'm resilient, resourceful, human, sensitive.” A follow-up, five-step exercise elaborates core values and concludes with a spiritual testament. Another exercise includes comparing specifics: “What my partner did: My partner was mean to our pets. What I do: Today I was kind to our pets,” and so on. The second section of the book takes readers beyond verbal affirmations to taking actions that provide a meaningful basis for moving ahead with the healing process, such as treating a family member to dinner, bringing a pet to the vet or visiting an art gallery. Stosny also offers tips on how to use the lists to evaluate a potential lover (e.g., how that person discusses former relationships that didn't work out). In a valuable final section about the possibility of repairing a relationship after betrayal, the author gives a hypothetical example of a couple that profited from his anger management boot camp.
May help sufferers gain insight and move along with life, if they're not put off by the cloying tone and conventional wisdom.