Most helpful critical review
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Doesn't do what it says on the cover
on 19 March 2009
I read Affluenza and very strongly agreed with Oliver James' central thesis. This book claims to be a 'detailed substantiation for the claims made in Affluenza.' On that basis I bought the book, and what a waste of money.
To start with it adds very little to what he says in Affluenza.
Secondly, some of what he does add is so shoddy as to be embarrassing. I will give a couple of examples. "I am looking forward to the first evolutionary theory explaining why nuclear weapons will further the reproduction of our genes." p14 Oh dear, Mr. James, you don't understand this theory at all. Evolutionary theory explains why a particular behaviour was adaptive in the environment in which it evolved. Change the environment and what once helped now harms. Did you really not get that or did you choose to misinterpret the theory to fool the unwary?
A little later we read "Studies show that a person from a poor home who is adopted at birth into a middle class home has an IQ score 10 points higher than their biological parents. At the very least, this suggests that the rearing environment can make a significant difference to intelligence." p29. So intelligence is environmental, not genetic, right? Wrong. Those same studies show that children from middle class families adopted into poor homes have higher IQs than those adopted from poor homes into middle class families. So intelligence is genetic, not environment, right? Wrong. Environment and genes play an interacting role, it's just for Mr. James to make money and keep himself in the public eye he has to con his readers with badly presented 'evidence' instead of being honest. His central thesis is good, he doesn't need this trickery.
Then later on we read "CBT is mental hygiene" p199. Dear, innocent reader you may think this a complement, but no, for James the only hygience worth the name is to rip out every surface, fumigate the whole house and replace everything with hypoallogenic alternatives. His ignorance or deceit is comfounded with statements like if a CBT therapist sees someone for more than 6-16 sessions "then that is not CBT" p206. Really? Christine Padesky runs training sessions on the use of CBT with people diagnosed with Personality Disorders and tells therapists to be ready for work with individuals for up to 2 to 3 YEARS and it is clearly CBT. James' misrepresentation of CBT encourages people to spend thousands of pounds and hundreds of hours in therapy, regardless of how well they think they are functioning.
Overall the quality of this work is of bad science and poor journalism, but I will give it three stars because the message in the book is so important, and the need for change so urgent, that I can forgive all its weaknesses.