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An uncomfortable read
on 9 July 2003
It is very important that you read Oliver James' introduction to this book if you choose to buy it. If you've decided to read a book sub-titled 'How to Survive Family Life' the chances are you may already hold at least the foundations of a grudge against your parents. Oliver James makes it clear that he does not wish to make family strife worse. The book's title is inspired by a Philip Larkin poem and readers should know that the poem's ultitmate advice is not to have children. This book ends on a much more upbeat note. In fact throughout the book the author contends that a person's pyschology is moulded by their parents and that this is a much happier position than if personalities, and therefore personality disorders, were all 100% genetic. He maintains that with education and support parents can change for the better. He also believes that people can use analysis of their childhoods to see why they behave the way they do and perhaps understand themselves for the better - and at the very least ensure their own children get an easier ride of things. The book treats the reader, and therefore every reader, as if he/she was a patient and it is somewhat frustrating not to be able to talk back. Interestingly (please note if you are a publisher) I liked it because I didn't feel beneath it in the way I do with many 'self-help' titles.