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Miscellaneous book notes - (File 8)

Table of Contents

For mothers of difficult daughters, Hearst

Dying without god, Giesbert

Leading a small group, Campus Crusade for Christ

Change your life and do it now, Tom Puderbaugh

Constuctive thinking, Seymour Epstein

For Mothers of Difficult Daughters, Charney Hearst, 1998 */

read may 98

I had heard of this book and felt immediately repulsed by it. The first paragraph starts off the victimized mother syndrome. She (Hearst) was called into court because her daughter got in trouble. She says "...my daughter was the reason we were there..." ie she blames her daughter from start to finish.

The judge told her to get her act together. She said she was furious at the judge's "unfair assumptions." She said at that moment she became a "mother's advocate." I am almost sick to my stomach.

Even calling a child "difficult" is damaging to the child. So who does it serve to label a child "difficult" or anything else? It serves the parent. It helps them avoid responsibility.

She is VERY defensive. Paints herself to be a perfect mother. Says she was getting straight A's at her college courses which she was taking while her 5 teenagers were "in school." As if she wasn't taking any time away from them. And what was she studying? PSYCHOLOGY! Now she is a PhD. I would love to interview the 5 kids about how great of a mother she is. I bet not one of them can tell me how they feel.

She says, "I had my act together." "It was my daughter's actions that were the problem."

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I am reading this but still I am having trouble believing it. Yet, thinking that this woman really believes she is right, and worse, that she is convincing other mothers that there is no cause and effect between what they do and their kids, is really saddening and frightening. And discouraging. Yet, by my little part in protesting such misinformation, I am doing something at least.

Anyhow, she says she felt humiliated, shamed (I wonder what church she was raised in- I would guess Catholic)

She says: "All we can do is try our best to raise them and love them well." p. xiv What a copout! She can do a lot more. She can take a look at herself for example. She can join a therapy group instead of thinking she knows how to run one! She can listen to her kids. She can ask them how they feel. She can admit she is insecure and defensive and has low self-esteem.

Anyhow, I suppose Ms. PhD Hearst will claim that not only is the parent not the cause, but that the CHILD causes the parent to react. ie the child in control! come on. I feel disgusted. Totally repulsed. I feel insulted on behalf of my own intelligence, personal experience, observations and research.

She labels her daughter as "my weed-growing daughter." That is real helpful to building a bond between them. How could anyone award you a degree in clinical psychology? It "should" taken from her. I am outraged.

on page xv she says this book categorizes difficult daughters according to types That is the last thing we need!!!! More categories!! More labels! Someone, wake this lady up!

Wake her up from her fantasy which she has created to protect her own self-image!

She suggests mothers never give up hope. HOPE IS A WASTE OF TIME, said Micheal Wickett, and I agree with him. Instead, never stop listening to your kids. That is a hell of a lot more productive than hoping. I suppose she will suggest the "pray" also. That is real good advice! Okay, I am getting sarcastic- and we know sarcasm is anger in disguise.

btw the subtitle is "How to enrich and repair the bond in adulthood" I am not making this up. Who believes that blaming you daughter will repair any bonds? Well, maybe if the bond was based on dysfunction in the first place. Interesting how when daughters become mothers, they often start defending their own mothers.

Anyhow, here are the three "categories:" dependent (duh, aren't kids supposed to be dependent???), dissatisfied (I wonder why) and distant (can you really expect anyone except defensive mothers to believe daughters can be "distant" by their own nature?)

It is plain to tell that she is a master of invalidation, turning things around and other defenses.

She mocks her daughter, minimizes the term "child-abuse." She is in complete denial.

She says daughters have long memories, they want to know why the mothers did things to them. She says the mothers want to know why the daughters don't "just get over it" (like Gretchen's mom, liked to say to Gretchen- there is one person who will love this book (G's mom)- another unhappy person institutionalizing her pain and dysfunction by counseling others- I think she calls her self a sex therapist, no I am not making this up, but my memory could be wrong.)

p 5/6 talks about a group therapy she was in (required for her degree so it was full of other psych students). They attacked her as being a bad mom. The facilitator didn't ask her how she felt. Didn't help her see that she felt defensive bc she was insecure and she knew what they were saying was true. He could have prevented this book. But he didn't understand as much as I do! And I was a business major!

Now she claims she has a great relationship with her most "most rebellious" daughter. Calls her "dutiful." Ah, yes, that is a great quality. In other words, her guilt trips finally paid off!

On page 7 she says dissatisfied daughters are: irritable, unhappy (I wonder why), and disagreeable. Does she really believe this is helpful? Yes, I forgot, it helps the mothers deny their responsibility.

p 8 she talks about the myths daughters have, but doesn't explain that the mothers gave the daughters these ideas. She does say the mothers agree with the myths, but again, she misses the cause- effect relationship.

As I suspected, she starts to disclose her religious beliefs. She believes daughters should "Honor thy mother" as the "Old Testament decreed." Decreed, that is an interesting word.

Synonyms: announce, command, order, proclaim, pronounce
Synonym for command: demand, among others.

She mentions something about Jewish moms. She could be Jewish herself. Catholics and Jews are very similar in the way they use fear, guilt, obedience, punishment etc. End result is they both produce kids with low self-esteem.

She says daughters tease mothers too much, make too many "gibes" at them. Says laughter can be cruel, even toxic. Hmmm. I wonder where these girls learned this technique.... Certainly not in their own homes! Must have come from "out there" somewhere. The media, etc. etc. Sure, there are lots of scape goats. Seek and you will find them!

p 11 She says research show that in families with strong ethnic or religious ties the mother is still respected. Could that be "feared"? She says when families get more affluent respect dwindles. Ahh, so maybe it is also "needed." ie when the kids need the parents financially, they do things which we call respecting. But I doubt it is really respect. And I doubt respect comes and goes with either ethnicity, religion or income. It all depends how you define respect.

p 12 she assures mothers that they "have done nothing wrong." Even against their protests when they say "I must have done something wrong," she says "Not necessarily." Then she claims that "Nearly every mental condition that was once ascribed to bad mothering has turned out to be either genetic or caused by the biochemical make up of the brain."

I wonder if she considers unhappiness, low self-esteem and insecurity "mental conditions." Also, I wonder if she realizes or admits that parents actually affect the biochemical makeup of the brain even after the baby is born. (Goleman, among others, cites this research.)

She acknowledges that trauma can affect someone, but asks tauntingly, "How many of us have been traumatized?" Let me see what Golemans book said about trauma... on page 204 of the hardbound book he quotes someone as saying that repeated incidents of minor abuse and uncontrollable stress can have the same biological impact as a one time traumatic event.

I wonder how she defines trauma. As repeated invalidation? Repeated guilt, punishment, fear, threats? I doubt it. But I would.

p 15 she says that if daughters can't make decisions it is likely that they were born with "an indecisive nature." She again minimizes the role of the mother by mockingly saying "unless you battered her or told her everyday she was worthless..." it was genetics, not you.

I wonder if she realizes the many ways a parent can say "you are worthless" without ever using those words. I also wonder what she thinks about Martin Seligman's research on learned helplessness. And I wonder what she thinks of the book "Toxic Parents." I would like to see her go up against the author of that book. I would like to see her totally discredited and exposed. In other words, I want to see her power taken from her. She is misusing it. Abusing it.

She says "In most cases, Mom is not to blame for a daughter who can't sustain friendships, or succeed in a career, or lose weight"

p 16 and 17

She first says mothers want to know, if I am not the problem, then what is. Hearst evades this question. She says "there is no easy answer." Sure there is Charney, you just gave us one: Genetics! Hooray for genetics! Let's blame genetics for everything, not just the 50% which Hearst claims it account for.

After evading the above question she switches the subject and then basically advises mothers to stop validating their daughters and to stop feeling empathy for them. In other words to treat them more coldly, to emotionally detach and distance themselves.

She gives an example of how she invalidates one of the mother's feelings and tries to force her to change not only her beliefs but her feelings for her daughter. I am amazed. "My daughter is like a lost soul," one of her clients wept. So the client is crying. The brilliant therapist says, "No, she's not. You are the lost soul." Then she (Hearst) proceeded to attack the daughter, believing, I am sure, that she was helping the client raise her awareness. Even if everything Hearst said was literally true, that is a horrible way to counsel someone. It is far better to let the client come to their own conclusions.

It is obvious to me that Hearst has a big need to control. Each time she "converts" someone to her way of thinking, she feels more secure. Just like religious people.

"Therapists" like this attract people so insecure they want someone else to tell them what to do and what do think and believe. These poor clients don't trust their own feelings or own intuition. They are vulnerable and people like Hearst exploit them and create dependency.

She also tells her clients they shouldn't feel guilty. That they did the best they could, etc. etc. I am sure she has a big following, just like all the people who take the Course in Miracles.

On page 18 she claims her book is not for "abusive mothers." But what is abuse? I disagree with her definition. Whenever one person has more power than another and uses this power to fill their own needs, from emotional to sexual, at the expense of another, it is abuse. So when the mother feels neglected and unimportant and lays a guilt trip on her kids to get them to call her more often, for example, it is abuse.

p 20 Her mothers' bill of rights!

I have the right to be treated with respect
I have the right to control my own life for as long as I can.
I have the right to an explanation of my children's feelings--I can't intuit their thoughts.
I have the right to be sad or angry without hiding my feelings
I have the right to protect my children.
I have the right to say no
I have the right to reminisce and be sentimental.
I have the right to talk to my children about my problems.
I do not expect them to provide solutions, just to listen.
I have the right to buy nice things and go places.
I have the right to my own opinions. I do not expect my children to agree with all of them.
I have the right to miss my children.
It does not mean I want to control them.

At the end she says:

I have the responsibility to respect each of my children and to grant them the same rights I expect for myself.

As I say elsewhere, most of these "rights" would better be called 'needs." The question then becomes whose needs are more important, the mother's or the daughters? If rights are absolute, then how does anyone decide whose "rights" prevail when there is a conflict of rights? Whoever has the most power, that is usually how. And in the mother daughter relationship, who has the most power for the first 18 years or so? In fact, the mother continues to have the power unless the daughter takes it from her.

It is very clear she believes her needs and feelings are more important than her daughters. This is backwards. Such a belief is clearly dysfunctional and counter-evolutionary.

on page 44 she gives her "wish list" for what she wants from her daughter, ie she is still trying to change her "grown up" daughters!

on p.46 she lists her "reasonable expectations" I got a good laugh out of that one.

It seems pretty obvious to me that if she had instilled and mirrored positive feelings in her daughter, most of the behaviors she wants would come naturally. But all of this focus on behavior without looking at the underlying feelings is the same old fashioned stuff that simply DOES NOT WORK in the long run!! It might work for a few generations, but eventually the kids get smart and get resentful and say "forget this guilt trip crap." Parents need to find a new way, a better way, and they need to find it quickly. This better way is what I am proposing. (see Parenting for a sample)

Her references are very, very weak. The virtually the entire book is her opinion which was formed to defend her own dysfunction parenting.

Her bio says she is Jewish, which helps explain her mentality ie defensiveness, insecurity, low self-esteem, judgmental attitude, lack of compassion, and over-intellectual development at the expense of her emotional brain. In short, high IQ, low EQ.

[By the way, I am afraid you may think I "don't like" Jewish people. Au contraire, it is the Jewish Religion and much of the cultural parenting beliefs which I disapprove of. Their families systems are widely known to create insecure adults, so I don't think I am being unfair to the Jewish culture. Because I have found Jewish people to be more intelligent than average, I have usually gotten along with them better than with "Christians," for example. Except for the Orthodox Jews, I have found they tend to value reason more than religion. I have also found them to be more self-reliant, responsible and harder working than the average "Christians." Quite frankly, I believe they are slightly more highly evolved as a race, a belief affirmed by research in the Bell Curve. (See my thoughts on evolution)


Dying Without God, Franz Giesbert */

read May 98

About Mitterand.

I don't like the author. First thing I didn't like was when he said Mitterand was an agnostic because he was "too intelligent to be an atheist"! p.6. I felt offended and insulted. It quickly became clear the author thinks there is a god. On the next page he talks about the wind as if it were "God passing by." What?? How would he know what "God" passing by would be like?? I feel repelled/repulsed by such statements.

I thought it would be more about Mitterand's belief system, but I didn't see much of anything on that topic. The author, or publisher, just wanted a catchy title. I feel misled and a little resentful.

On page 67 he picks apart Mitterand's sentences. example: M is talking about the bloodless revolution in the USSR. The author say: "Not quite bloodless."

Mitterand says "True, but it was still a miracle." Then the author, supposedly a skilled journalist and interviewer, says "A mystery is not necessarily a miracle."

Amazing that this guy would feel the need to prove Mitterand wrong on such irrelevant things. It only shows how insecure the author is. I am sorry Mitterand didn't say, "This interview is over. I won't talk to someone who picks apart my sentences, wants to prove he is right and I am wrong and thereby invalidates me."

The guy uses Mitterand to make his own statements throughout the book by sprinkling around his comments and opinions here and there. I am not sure what his main purpose was. To make a name for himself or to present us with an accurate view of Mitterand. If he did this to me (if I allowed it) I would certainly feel used.

p 71. He says about Mitterand: "Suddenly, he was not only being wrongheaded, but mean-spirited." ie, author is feeling judgmental.

p 99 He says to Mitterand, when M was clearly already feeling defensive. "You used the communist party for your own needs, then cast it aside."

Then M. defends himself again, not realizing he is being attacked and saying "I feel attacked. Interview is over." No, he lets this guy engage him in a hostile debate.

Next the guy says "But you can't deny...." Man, this guy is really hostile and aggressive.

Again I might say, if I were self-aware: "You don't think I can deny that?" And then let the other person ramble on and share his beliefs which is what he really wants to do. He doesn't really want to hear Mitterand's beliefs unless he can use them in some way. And yet he calls Mitterand selfish! ie projection.

Am amazed that Mitterand put up with that.

One interesting thing was that M. listened to psychics. Shows that he lacked belief in himself. Interesting. Other signs, he needed a lot of women around him. Was a "ladies man" by all accounts. ie very insecure with himself, constantly needing admiration, approval, attention, etc. Like Clinton.

I really feel offended by this guy's "interviewing" style. Perhaps because it reminds me so much of my own family, and others who aren't really interested in me.

p. 100 M says "Force is never the best way. When you impose the rule of force, you inevitably bring down democracy and ultimately end in bloodshed."

I feel resentful towards this guy for having such a rare opportunity of speaking to a world leader and then being so judgmental and putting him on the defensive. We could have learned so much more about Mitterand if this guy would have talked less, asked better questions, validated M. and kept him talking nonstop. I am really convinced this author had his own agenda and it was not a "noble" one. I disrespect him for using Mitterand. Especially when he is not around now to defend himself.

Reading more, it sounds like this guy is almost deliberately toying with Mitterand and even mocking him. I feel protective of M, and resentful towards the author. (example page 102 when he tells some joke that M obviously didn't think was funny.)

I really feel disgusted by the book. Not because of what I learned about Mitterand, but because of what I learned about the author.

Leading a Small Group */

Put out by the Campus Crusade for Christ out of Orlando. (Given to me by Katie, an intelligent girl from Tennessee I met in May 28 at the library. More intelligent and free-thinking than average xtian.)

A book to help the college student leaders of Bible study groups.

Some notes:

- way too many cute graphics.

- makes it clear that "God" uses people p. 25, 29

- advocates peer pressure, punishment (p 26)

- examples of "compassion" when someone doesn't come to meetings: "How can I encourage them?" "How can I let them know they really are wanted as part of the group?" These sound more like manipulation.

- p. 28 "God is looking for men and women who fear him..."

- p 30 their attempt to show evidence of compassion in the bible is very, very weakly supported. They give only two references. One is more like sympathy, the other I couldn't figure out the connection at all!

p 33 sample letter's references to death - "your gonna die when you hear this.. + My dad would have killed me if"... These remind us of the brutal language used in many "loving" homes.

p 35 they try to explain "real needs" and "felt needs." Needs to belong and to be accepted are "felt." But the need to have a deeper relationship with God and for forgiveness are "real" needs!

Then it confusingly says "However, many so called felt needs are also real needs" (!) It goes on: "For example, people feel the need for love, acceptance and belonging, but these are also real needs." Confusing, huh?

Then it says "The Bible has plenty to say regarding the universal needs of all believers, such as remembering our forgiveness, offering ourselves to God, and loving God with all our being. However, it's a bit overwhelming to sort out everything the Bible says about the needs of those in your group and decide their most crucial ones." That really clarifies things for the kids, and is pretty much less than useless.

So, how does the leader determine the needs of the group? Here are the steps they list:

1. Pray for insight and wisdom. 2. Observe the members' actions. You can learn "plenty" by this. 3. Ask the members of the group questions like: why are you interested in a bible study group?

I don't suppose they would be interested in my list of human needs, or in my explanation of unmet emotional needs!

p 66 Icebreakers: (more useful)

"If you knew you couldn't fail and money was no object, what would you do." Good question, but exactly the same words that I heard on a tape about core beliefs by some guy. I wonder who stole it from whom.

Chart your life. Graph up of ups and downs. [I like this idea for an activity- like the time line in that workshop in Indy]

Game: two truths and a lie [interesting- encouraging them to lie...]

Best and worst moments of previous week.

Take out something from wallet or purse which they have had for a while & talk about it.

What do you value most in a friend and why?

If your house was on fire and you could run back in and get a few things, what would they be?

Share your "testimonies"

Who do admire and why?

Who would you want to interview from history? Why?

p 69-71 talks about the importance of building relationships - they got this right, but focus a lot on food!

p 78 - Keys to becoming better listener... standard list + this suggestion, right out of my web page!: "Try to understand the emotion expressed in their comments."

Be an in-their-shoes listener, be an active listener, an encouraging and total body listener.

Some ways to use questions (my adaptation)

Launching, (gets disc. started) Follow-up (what else about that? What do the rest of you think? Anyone feel differently? (my words) Guiding/clarifying, (Can you help me understand..So you believe that....Sounds like you are feeling...) Reverse/Relay (What do you think? How about you, Jeff) Summarizing (So what bothered you most was....)

(I imagine they got these from somewhere else, but they don't have any citations.)

Learning activities:

Hypothetical questions, values and culture (use tv, for example [just like my idea])

p 97 Group leaders are advised: "Avoid a harsh or judgmental attitude." That is encouraging! A nice change from stoning people in Old Testament!

Cautions that you can't change someone else, advises not to feel responsible for someone else. "Some very unhealthy relationships can develop when people feel the need to take responsibility for another person's life." I am happy to see this, instead of pushing the old "you are your brother's keeper" codependent/martyr concepts.

p 99 Encourages leaders to help others make decisions for themselves. [Another long overdue change in thinking. Maybe one day a million years from now they will finally teach them to think for themselves about everything instead of having "faith" and being dependent on their supernatural illusions.]

p 101 says that a statement like "premarital sex isn't really against the bible if you are in love" is heresy!

Suggests people not ask questions like "does hair grow on heaven" - in other words, don't ask tough questions we can't answer. Don't try to figure things out. Don't try to use logic and reason.

Tips on silence:

- relax, be patient, give people time to think - don't fill silence up with lectures - rephrase question

makes a couple not-so-subtle digs at homosexuality. strongly implies it is wrong, without actually stating the author's beliefs. Implies it is a given in the bible that it is wrong.

p 107 lousy advice on handing disagreements - encourages leader to avoid conflict. Recommends this as a way of getting out of situation: "I suppose we all have our opinions on that..." and then just moving on. This doesn't solve any problems or help anyone feel better. Instead it invalidates the person who the leader disagrees with. Better would be: It sounds like we disagree. Can we agree on that? And: I am afraid we are getting too far off track, would you be willing to hold the issue till after the meeting? (This gives the person power, the other approach takes it from him/her)

p112 list of labels bible uses for disbelievers like me:

dead, disobedient, wicked, objects of wrath, harassed (I agree with this one!), helpless, godless, suppressors of the truth, darkened (I would say enlightened), fools, stubborn, unrepentant (yep), self-seeking, followers of evil, rejecting the truth (are they projecting, perhaps?), perishing, without excuse, accountable, deceived, slaves to sin, cannot please God, destined for everlasting punishment

Apparently they offer this list to help the bible students see the "spiritual needs" of the non-believers so they will want to run out and save them.

Right after this list it says "Help your group develop a heart for others...! [I am not making this up!] p 112

p 127 First on list of how to add vitality to a boring group" Ask God for wisdom.

The last chapter of the book is basically a big add for some of the Campus for Crusades products!

Some ideas for activities:

Go somewhere and build an alter to the Lord. This can be as simple as a pile of rocks. (!) p. 150

Give money to help overseas missionaries.

Then they suggest some ways to "target" international students. I suppose this is because they know they are more vulnerable. Very smart strategy. Like Scientologists preying on foreigners.

"Teach them how to disciple others." "Encourage them to come to Campus Crusade meetings and teach them how to effectively share their faith." ie recruit more blind followers.


Change Your Life and Do It Now, Tom Puderbaugh, published and read in 1996 */

Inside cover says "Seven secret strategies to help you design and live the life of your dreams"

The 7

1. Believe in yourself

2. Take personal responsibility

3. Commit. (Better is create motivation)

4. Set a goal

5. Get a big enough "why"

6. Develop a plan

7. Take action

Some specific suggestions & reminders

- find a hero

- visualize

- take small steps

- expect to skin your knee

- toxic people kill

- focus on solutions

- snap yourself out of it

- don't give up

- ignore yesterday - (seems to conflict with don't give up)

- give to people

- celebrate frequently

- find a way to lift your mood

- raise the bar

- buddy up

- your perception is your reality

- keep things in perspective

- look the part (yuck)

- look back, but don't turn back

- push the envelope

- find the unique you

- you are never too old

- love your problems

- sometimes it is best not to ask

- failure is a good place to start from

- keep your sanity

p 15

he says we are not stimulus=response creatures

p 16

says we let dreams of our youth slip away- we are too busy with earning a living rather than designing a life

p 37

typical stuff: "you are special, you have value; you are just as important as anyone else; you have the right to be happy; you have the God-given right to be whoever you want to be"

p 38-39

says the power is within us- just like the tin man, lion and scarecrow had within them a heart, courage and brains all along.

says we have the authority to change; we don't need anyone's permission

p 39

talks about the 4 minute mile- how experts said it couldn't be done. Then Roger Bannister did it. Then in the same year 34 others did as well-- because they now believed it could be done.


p 45

"One of the most disturbing trends in America is that we seem to be becoming a nation of victims."

He says you are 100% responsible- doesn't mention parents or culture.

He says we are becoming a bunch of "whining losers."

He likes the song "Get over it"

p 50-51

basically says the more decisions we make,the easier it gets.- like developing a muscle.

p 52

says events are mostly neutral; they have no meaning in themselves- - what matters is our interpretation of them.

p 56

says there is contentment and quiet strength once you make a decision. Things then start to fall in place. Resources seem to appear as if by magic. [this is similar to what Wickett says about starting to live your dream- he said people will help you]

p 61

He has this quote from some unknown source:

Whether we reach our goal is not as important as the person we become while pursuing it.

p 63

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable/realistic, Time driven

p 93

Change your environment (practice env control

p 107

Never stop learning

p 116

- Watch out for social pressure and temptations

- keep a friend on call for moments of discouragement

- don't substitute one bad habit for another

- guard against overconfidence

- help sb else

p 118

ask - will this matter in 5 years [what about 2 or 1 or even 1 day]

p 120

If you want difft results, do difft things.

p 124

What do I want to do today and how will I have fun doing it? (he said "have" to do)

p 130

don't take things too seriously

p 160

It is not what you know, it is what you do with what you know

Ask: what is one thing I can do right now to get me started towards my goal?



Constructive Thinking: The Key to Emotional Intelligence.

Quick Notes:

What I didn't like: Very misleading title. Book minimizes value of emotional intelligence, doesn't reflect Mayer and Salovey's recent work. Emotional intelligence is never even mentioned after page 28 or something. Book is simply new edition of an earlier book, with a new first chapter talking about EI.

Too much like normal cognitive therapy stuff; power of positive thinking, etc. but Norman Vincent Peales book is better as a quick fix self-help book and I might say that David Burns did a better job of explaining cognitive therapy. Epstein gives some credit to Albert Ellis, Beck, and others, but not much.

Over use of terms automatic thoughts, two minds, experiential mind.

His claim that thoughts always precede emotions.

book in some places is simplistic, such as in section on sensitivity and compulsion and in some of his little stories. He tries to write a self-help book for "thinking people" but the book doesn't seem to be especially helpful, nor does it

He tries to hard to convince us there are "two minds." I believe it is better to emphasize that the entire brain is one system, in fact that the entire body is one integrated system.

He puts down feelings in many cases, yet still says his theory places more value on them than cognitive therapy. He implies it always our interpretation of things which causes our feelings. I disagree, though many, many times we do interpret things in an "irrational" or destructive way. He is writing from an American perspective, and I assume Jewish. Both influences would contribute to more negative thinking than say a non-religious Australian background.

His use of word "sensitivity" - he defines it as a problem, as in a person who has a sensitivity to being bossed around.

p 90 he says someone's "problem" is that they have a sensitivity to taking orders. I am afraid some people will use this kind of stuff to further invalidate people's feelings. Instead of feeling compassion for someone, respecting their feelings and trying to understand and connect with them some people may, "His problem is that he has a sensitivithy to x." This is easy for judgmental people, especially, to do. Easier than looking at themselves. I imagine a person who heard someone say that about them would feel analyzed, criticized, disapproved of, invalidated, misunderstood, unhelped.

He later tells us what someone else's "problem" is as if he knows what everyone's "problem" is. I know that I would want someone telling me what my "problem" is, especially not in such a simplistic way. (I recognize Epstein is probably over-simplifying intentionally to sell more books, and I expect he realizes things are not that simple.)

He implies a child is responsible for her "sensitivity" of being jealous. He gives a good example of how a mother compares two daughters, always complimenting one, but not the other. Then when the unfavored daugther speaks up, the mother completely invalidates her by saying, "Now you know that isn't true." Yet he says the child "developed a sensitivity that remained with her into adulthood." (p 91) He doesn't mention the cause effect relationship between what the mother did and the child's feelings. I am not sure how much he holds parents accountable, but it doesn't seem like much. He doesn't emphasize that we get our negative programming largely from our parents.

I would say using the term "open wound" would be better. This implies we were wounded and the reason we are sensitive to something is because the wound is still open."


What I liked: Good criticism of Goleman's book.

His section on people who believe in astrology, ghosts etc. - he calls this esoteric and superstitious thinking.

Book helped me clarify my own thoughts; reminded me of importance of positive thinking, cognitive distortions, or "constructive thinking" as he calls it.

My own ideas of constructive thinking:

Everything and everyone is my teacher.

Every negative feeling is an opportunity to work on an unmet need.

When I feel frustrated by one approach, I remind myself I might find another way which works even better.


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