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Roberts, S.M. (2015). Good Stuff: Courage, Resilience, Gratitude, Generosity, Forgiveness and Sacrifice by Salman Akhtar Aronson, Lanham, MD, 2013; 204 pp. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 96(6):1691-1694.

(2015). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 96(6):1691-1694

Book and Journal Reviews

Good Stuff: Courage, Resilience, Gratitude, Generosity, Forgiveness and Sacrifice by Salman Akhtar Aronson, Lanham, MD, 2013; 204 pp

Review by:
Sharon M. Roberts

Good Stuff is an unusual book, a short book in length, but an expansive survey wending its way through cultural, literary, historical and psychoanalytic perspectives. One of Akhtar's motivations is “to temper Freud's view that human beings are essentially ‘bad’ and whatever goodness they can muster is largely defensive” (p. xiv). He hopes that: “by elucidating the origins, dynamics, social pleasures, and clinical benefits of courage, resilience, gratitude, generosity, forgiveness and sacrifice, I will shed light on a corner of human experience that has been inadequately understood by psychoanalysts and other mental health professionals” (p. xv).

Akhtar's book consists of chapters on each of his good stuff concepts. He describes the content of his book as having two parts: the first part focuses on the positive attributes of courage, resilience and gratitude, while the second part focuses on what he calls positive actions, generosity, forgiveness and sacrifice. This book's mission has evidently been in Akhtar's mind for a long time. Those of us familiar with Akhtar's work will notice that some of the chapters in this book were previously published in psychoanalytic journals, although they appear here with more recent additions. The earliest paper I noted was on forgiveness, published in 2002 in the Psychoanalytic Quarterly (Akhtar, 2002). In 2009, he edited a book, Good Feelings: Psychoanalytic Reflections on Positive Emotions and Attitudes (Akhtar, 2009), and a year later he published a paper on happiness (Akhtar, 2010).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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