Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Review: Why Can't I Change?

The book "Why Can't I Change? How to Conquer Your Self-Destructive Patterns" serves as three books in one.  First, as the title suggests, it's a self-help guide.  Second, it's a book on parenting.  Third, it's a book on interpersonal relationships.

The self-help aspect of the book describes attachment theory.  It uses this theory to draw a connection between how we react to stress and emotional situations today and how accessible and responsive to us our earliest caregivers were in the past.  This connection brings us insight into our behavior.  Once aware of our needs, we can circumvent misunderstandings and bring resolution to conflicts.

The aforementioned connection to our caregivers is what also makes this a helpful parenting book.  Those of us who don't want our kids to turn out as screwed up as we are can benefit from knowing how to respond to displays of emotion.  (Hint, not with, "Oh you'll get over it;" rather, "It's upsetting that the boy dumped you.")  The author gives us hope -- we can repair neglectful parenting fairly easily.

And because everyone we deal with, (boss, coworker, spouse, classmate, teacher, etc.) may not have had the most ideal parenting, we gain a bit more understanding, tolerance and perhaps even compassion when dealing with difficult people.

One concern I had is that the author doesn't discuss neurological disorders.  Her description of the "avoidant attachment" type could also describe someone with mild autism.  We are left to ponder whether autism is the result of avoidant mothers ("refrigerator mothers.")  A brief statement explaining that attachment theory applies only to neurotypical individuals should be included.

Overall the book is easy to read.  The author deftly combines theory with anecdotes from her own life and that of her patients.  Exercises for self-discovery and behavior modification are included.  Spelling and grammar are very good with only two minor errors.

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