[Book] Oliver James – How to Develop Emotional Health (School of Life)

My Raiting: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ (5/10)

9781447258810How to Develop Emotional Health_4

Helen King Review: The best part of this book was the introduction and the five topics. I agree that for emotional health, ‘insightfulness’, ‘Living in the present’, ‘Fluid, Two way relationships’, ‘Authenticity in our careers’, and ‘Playfulness and Vivacity in Parenting’ are fundamental elements.

But the approach of the author (who is a child clinical psychologist, so maybe this is the reason), is to draw almost everything back to early childhood experiences. Good outcomes are as a result of a good childhood experience, or maybe, that for some reason, an individual has moved beyond the constraints of his or her bad experience. There is limited explanation of what you might do if your emotional health is not particularly strong.

The other really grating element is that many of the examples of ’emotionally healthy’ women seemed to me to be more pragmatic, almost manipulative / settling for second best. There are a number of examples, but this one it pretty typical as an example of someone deemed to have good emotional health (???)

The woman who, after being ‘let down at 17 when her father left for another woman’, ‘was quite deliberate in her choice of husband. With cold calculation she recognised her sexual allure would decline as she got older … the man she chose was not a philanderer; he was a cerebral high-achiever in her field. She admired and loved him but was not ‘in love’ with him’. (but it was ok, because she had babies, and was able to balance a career. The outcome: ‘playful, jolly children and playful jolly Serena’). I’m sorry – this story does not, to me, seem to be something to hold up as an emotionally healthy person (apart from anything, did the husband have any role in ‘being chosen’?) Very odd book to me – no wonder it sat on my shelf for over two years.

outgoing, dominant, liberal