Philippa Perry's 'How to Stay Sane' is a rare gem of a psychological self-help book. Full of practical insights based on sound, up-to-date theory, it is written in a straightforward, sometimes humourous, friendly style that doesn't patronise the reader. Also, importantly, it doesn't offer simple solutions to complex problems, but takes us on a realistic journey towards greater self-acceptance and mindfulness.
The signposts on this really quite deeply philosophical journey are described under the headings 'Self-Observation', 'Relating to Others', 'Stress' (I couldn't help wanting to think of this more as 'self-challenge') and 'What's the Story (Our Personal Narrative)' She provides thorough references for each chapter and ends the book with a section describing detailed exercises that enable us to `embody' the theories she has discussed. "It is one thing to know about something and another to embody it" she says and, "The point of a set of instructions that comes with a model-aeroplane kit is not to supply you with reading material, but to guide you in the practical steps you need to apply in order to build the kit." These excellent exercises, she rightly tells us, are not for reading but for doing. Based as they are on sound principles they are well worth the investment of time.
As a now retired psychotherapist I can honestly say I wish this book had been available to recommend to clients while I was still employed. I especially liked it that Philippa Perry quotes Peter Lomas ("Hold your beliefs lightly") and also that she communicates to us that the most meaningful changes will come about when we stop trying to be who we are not and simply become more mindful of who we are. I do recommend it, it's a great little book!