Most helpful critical review
64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
A curate's egg: good in parts
on 7 May 2008
Fundamentally, this is an interesting and useful book, because it provides a very descriptive overview of the personality types that are emotionally unavailable. My problem with it, however, is that there are better books on this subject available.
When we encounter relationship issues that seem as inexplicable as they are frustrating, we need help in understanding the true nature of the problem. Often, we also need to see that a partner's dysfunctional behaviour may have nothing to do with us. So this book does a good job of explaining what you're up against. In that sense, it will make many people feel a lot better and stop them blaming themselves for something that isn't their fault.
While many, if not all, of the personality types listed exist in some form or another, the reality is that you cannot categorize everyone who exhibits certain character flaws into a set range of groups. It is too simplistic. In the final analysis, this classification only helps you understand the problems rather than providing effective strategies for dealing with them.
What you may really need is help on is evaluating the seriousness of the flaws we are exposed to. What often motivates people us to read books such as this is the need to determine whether a relationship can be salvaged or whether, for our own sake, we need to cut and run. The danger of the generalised profiles in this book is that they can lead us to form an exaggerated perception of flaws we encounter, or, conversely, to normalise behaviour that is totally unacceptable. So, don't rely on it alone.
When we are the victims of unreasonable behaviour, we need to evaluate whether the perpetrator has one of three things:
1. A character flaw or psychosis that can relatively easily be addressed through therapy
2. A true personality disorder that may or may not be helped by sustained therapy over time
3. Serious mental illness that may never be overcome
At the end of the day, we're all human, so we're all flawed to a lesser or greater degree. So what this book fails to provide an adequate continuum of behaviours across each personality type in order to help you evaluate the extent of certain the seriousness of certain signatures behaviors.
I wish the book did more to help the reader address the problems. For instance, what are effective communication techniques to engage someone with serious issues? How should you set and maintain boundaries in such situations? What is an appropriate response to unacceptable behaviour? Another minor gripe is that this book seems aimed more at women than men. But men can equally be the victims of emotionally unavailable women.
I don't want to be too hard on this book, because it has much to offer. Above all, it could be the catalyst you need to start taking control of a difficult relationship problem instead of being a victim.