This is an interesting and thought provoking read, I have never heard of Arno Gruen and the hardback edition of the book which I have is dated 1986, so I would guess that perhaps the ideas which Gruen outlines could perhaps not unfairly be described as a "road not taken" or "forgotten idea". It is a shame because it is a very, very humanising account, humanising of patients or those suffering from mental breakdowns, and humanising for the population at large, including those providing any sort of therapeutic intervention for those that are generally more readily identified as being in need of one.
Gruen's central thesis is that there is a culturally patterned or determined choice between power and love. Generations have consciously and unconsciously opted for power rather than love, caring or empathic response. Beginning in childhood in the response of mothers to crying babies, which evokes memories of past and present powerlessness in the mother who responses as someone who must teach obedience rather than respond with care.
From this point Gruen proceeds to discuss how psychological processes like abstraction (the primacy of thinking and denial of freedom, ultimately in a denial of the autonomous self) and identification operate (or dont operate as in the case of the later) disabling and crippling individuals, leading to an diminished self. This diminished self is, however, is typical of successful individuals, as society is more perfectly attuned to it (some of the writing on success and failure in this context was among the most interesting to me, although I felt it was short in comparison to others).
The suppression of feelings, primacy of intellect/cognitive performance and abstract thinking does seem like the emerging recipe for success in what other more recent authors have criticised as variously the self-improvement culture, neo-liberal man (sic) and the self-tracking culture. Gruen acknowledges a debt to Erich Fromm, in the introduction and later, but appears to consider Fromm's own analysis as possessing less depth, restricted to politics and responsibility (I may not agree with that having read almost all of Fromm's material) but I think this may be an effort to distinguish his own theorising. The developmental focus and familial/maternal deprivation focus in both Gruen and Fromm, I think, parallel a lot of the research in attachment style or disorder that I have read or become familiar with, although using different language or concepts. That said, I suspect that Gruen could convincingly suggest that his own observations and insights would deserve to be considered on a stand alone basis.
Gruen uses research, literary and case examples from his clinical practice to support his findings, the writing style is engaging and avoids being dull, some of the literary references, including Orwell and Henry Miller, are enjoyable to read too and enrich the narrative. There will no doubt be readers who will find it longer on description than prescription (I did not find that) or consider the findings wanting in terms of a supporting evidence base (there has been some discussion on the repeatable or falsifiable/testable basis of much of psychology's evidence base of late, suggesting all are narratives, all is social construction, not a little of it strikes me as closely resembling what Gruen criticises as abstraction).
This is a book which I think should find a wider readership than it is likely to get (unfortunately) and certainly deserves to be read by more people than professionals or students alone. It is bound to appeal to anyone who enjoys Erich Fromm or has thought about the role of wider cultural or structural causation in individual and social immiseration or mental illness. The chapter on the "dehumanisation of men and oppression of woman" is worth the cover price alone. Recommended.
- ペーパーバック: 154ページ
- 出版社: Human Development Books; 1版 (2007/11/30)
- 言語: 英語
- ISBN-10: 0966990889
- ISBN-13: 978-0966990881
- 発売日： 2007/12/14
- 商品の寸法: 14 x 1 x 21.6 cm
- カスタマーレビュー: 評価の数 15
- Amazon 売れ筋ランキング: 洋書 - 341,961位 (洋書の売れ筋ランキングを見る)