CHOICE THEORY by William Glasser


A New Psychology of Personal Freedom
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 Feeling really blue lately? Sweeping aside decades of research on brain chemistry, Glasser concludes that you're not depressed; rather, you're choosing ``to depress.'' Much-published psychiatrist Glasser (Stations of the Mind: New Directions for Reality Therapy, 1981 , etc.) believes that choices about human relationships are at the heart of almost all psychological problems and that what governs such interactions is ``external control psychology.'' In other words, people generally try to coerce or manipulate others to achieve their goals. One of the more dubious tenets of his worldview is that most individuals believe ``it is right, it is even my moral obligation, to ridicule, threaten, or punish those who don't do what I tell them to do.'' Today, the author posits, relationships at home, work, and school should be characterized by a total absence of effort to control or even judge, that the focus should be on improving the relationship alone. This makes for an ultra-laissez-faire approach to much human interaction. For example, Glasser argues that failing students is inherently ``abusive,'' that a student who can't understand Shakespeare should be switched to James Herriot instead. Whatever happened to innovative approaches to learning, to teaching young people to persevere when facing difficulties? Granted, Glasser's pragmatic approach, which is elaborated in only the most general terms, may sometimes be more helpful than much psychoanalytically informed psychotherapy. In general, however, this is a grating book, for the author makes grandiose claims on behalf of his one-dimensional theory (which happens not to be terribly new at all). And Glasser relentlessly touts choice theory, even envisioning, in a community he's trying to transform, ``homeless people getting together for dinner and a discussion of [this] book.'' Wouldn't it be better if the townspeople, and the country, chose instead to deal with the roots of homelessness?

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-06-019109-0
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1998