I must confess that I was drawn to this book by the title – I mean, isn’t this something almost everyone needs, the courage to be disliked? Just the title is somewhat misleading, though. This is really a primer on the psychology of Alfred Adler, written in a dialogue style between the two authors. The dialogue style wasn’t my favorite, and I found myself not being able to relate on many occasions to the conversations they were having.
I also am not a huge fan of Adlerian psychology, although I understand that I probably don’t fully grasp the concepts. For example, Adler believed that there is no such thing as trauma. If I say “I’m traumatized by my dad because he beat me growing up”, Adler would say “no, you don’t want to have a relationship with your dad, so you are creating trauma”. I don’t think he’s saying suffering isn’t real – I think it’s more about taking responsibility for the here and now – but still, I don’t like how it’s framed.
Overall, then, I did not like this book. But the weird thing is that there are several quotes and concepts that really DID resonate with me. For example, he asks the question “whose task is this?” to delineate boundaries. Not really a new concept, but a new way to ask the question “who does this belong to?”. Also, he says that the courage to be free includes the courage to be disliked – meaning that if you don’t have the courage to be disliked, you’ll always be living someone else’s life.
Anyway, if you are a philosophical type who likes really complex discussion and arguments, you might like this book and its format. It’s not one that I’ll be keeping on my shelf, but I’m not sorry I read it!
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Alan Gordon is the Director of the Pain Psychology Center in Los Angeles, and I’ve been waiting with bated breath for his book to come out. The fact is that we have a chronic pain epidemic in this country, and many of us as therapists will see clients with chronic pain, whether that is their primary presenting symptom or not.
It’s a bit of a dicey topic with clients to suggest that their thinking/brain/mind may have something to do with their pain – it’s often insulting like “do you think my pain is just in my head?” As Gordon says “do you feel your pain? Then it’s real.” But he’s correct in saying that physical pain is a conversation between the mind/brain and the body – every time we feel pain, it’s our brain that is sending the signal to initiate pain. With chronic pain, Gordon says that those neurons have fired together so much that the brain becomes “stuck on” with pain signals, sometimes after the physical injury should have run its course. He calls this neuroplastic pain.
Because a person in pain gets in a cycle of fear about their pain, the main thrust of Pain Reprocessing Therapy is to understand that it’s just your brain misfiring and to send yourself messages of safety. After determining the pain may be neuroplastic, clients do “somatic tracking”, which is to just observe their bodies with curiosity instead of the fear-based laser focus they usually use. Clients also send themselves messages of safety instead of fear.
While I’m dubious that this is a 100% ironclad treatment for pain, I have found many of the things he’s saying to be true with my chronic pain clients. I will absolutely keep this book handy and use these techniques with willing chronic pain clients. Since chronic pain is such a common issue, I suggest having this book on hand for clinicians, even if chronic pain is not your specialty.
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