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Hart, A.H. (2008). Self-Help and the Psychotherapeutic Endeavor—Whose Side are These Books on? Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life after Boyhood Sexual Abuse by R. B. Gartner. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2005, 244 pp.Schopenhauer's Porcupines: Intimacy and Its Dilemmas by D. A. Luepnitz. New York: Basic Books, 2002, 275 pp.Can Love Last?: The Fate of Romance over Time by S. A. Mitchell. New York: Norton, 2002, 223 pp.The Good Father: On Men, Masculinity, and Life in the Family ed. M. O'Connell. New York: Scribner, 2005, 286 pp.. Contemp. Psychoanal., 44(1):141-153.

(2008). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 44(1):141-153

Book Reviews

Self-Help and the Psychotherapeutic Endeavor—Whose Side are These Books on? Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life after Boyhood Sexual Abuse by R. B. Gartner. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2005, 244 pp.Schopenhauer's Porcupines: Intimacy and Its Dilemmas by D. A. Luepnitz. New York: Basic Books, 2002, 275 pp.Can Love Last?: The Fate of Romance over Time by S. A. Mitchell. New York: Norton, 2002, 223 pp.The Good Father: On Men, Masculinity, and Life in the Family ed. M. O'Connell. New York: Scribner, 2005, 286 pp.

Review by:
Anton H. Hart, Ph.D.

People read self-help books, maybe more than they go to psychotherapy. Psychoanalysts—at least those who have not successfully published such books themselves—may shudder at the thought. But while it is easy for us to look down our noses at psychological books written for a lay readership (such books almost always speak with a simplifying, popularizing voice rather than one characterized by ambiguity, complexity, and a hesitancy to tell readers what to do—which may be the hallmarks of an analytic attitude), it might be useful to consider the role of the self-help genre in the wider therapeutic culture. If a psychoanalyst seeks not to direct the patient but to offering a sometimes painful process within which the patient may find access to hidden aspects of self, the self-help section of the book store might be the perfect antidote to such travail.

Perusing the shelves of a corporate chain bookstore, one is bombarded with guidance. Pure marketing is on display, capitalizing on people's defensive tendencies to wrap up their difficulties in a catch-phrase or two.

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