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4.7 out of 5 stars42
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 14 May 2013
This is a great book that will help you deal with any psychological issues you may have. It doesn't tackle one specific problem such as "dealing with anxiety" but gives guidelines on how to work with a multitude of problems: i.e. not being assertive enough, passive-aggressiveness, narcissism etc...

Its benefit is that rather than teaching you to live in a "happy ever after world" where anger, fear or sadness do not exist, it forces you to walk on a harder path that in my opinion, is a much more rewarding one: that of recognizing the multiple emotions that make us human and learning how to work with them.

I've read a few self-help books and I've learned to become skeptical of books that just offer to embrace the "good" in us - i.e. loving kindness, compassion etc... - and ward off all other more painful emotions such as anger. Humans are complex beings expressing a variety of emotions, some more pleasant than others. For me, it's better to accept that rather than lie to myself. It can be much more difficult to accept, but if you're strong enough, the work will bear its fruits.
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on 24 May 2013
I was surprised to see I have not yet written a review of this book. I have read it three times. It is a clear and enlightening book that does not promise instant relief, overnight success or absolution. It is a book that allows us to understand the underlying mechanics of why we behave out of defence, avoidance and self perpetuated resistance. I have a vast library of self help material, after having a major breakdown in my work and love life I amassed all sorts of literature. All of these books seek to bring you to an end defined by the path of their choice. Josephs book came late in the game. While I was searching embarrassment and shame as major sticking points in my progress, I came across his web presence. He runs a website called After Psychology that I highly recommend with posts and blogs by the author and the ability for the readership to comment. It was here I started to see real, helpful objective material, and ultimately found out about his writing. Josephs work is based in the field of psycho-dynamic psychotherapy. He has a lifetime of experience working as a counsellor and receiving counselling himself. It shows, as he does have things covered from many angles with great empathy. This stuff does not pull punches, and in some senses you must be ready to see your faults for what they are. Many counsellors/therapists do not have the grounding to work in this field because it is sobering, sometimes painfully revealing to the ego that wants to run and hide. What he gives us is a systematic, thorough and easy to understand method for observing our behaviour and informing ourselves based on these observations such that as we learn and progress our path is gently corrected and self-monitored. Please do yourself a favour, check out his website, check out a sample of the book (or his other works which are also excellent), be honest and secure with yourself and monitor your reactions. Try observe them with objective understanding rather than critical judgement. Highly recommended.
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on 17 March 2014
Self insight, as opposed to gratuitous navel-gazing, is an important part of being an adult. Reading through this more than once of though 'oh crap ...' as yes, I did that before. So it's a good book, although sometimes uncomfortable reading. It's also good to remind yourself sometimes that everyone else makes the same mistakes!
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on 15 December 2012
Far better than a "normal" self help book. This one helps the reader understand what is going on in a readable and simple manner about the complexities inside ourselves hence making real change more possible.
As a therapist I would advocate talking to someone, but this book is a fabulous start to aid self understanding .
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on 12 May 2015
I'm a Counselling student in therapy, and I found this book very useful to help with my personal development. It's really easy to read, with hardly any jargon, and is presented in a friendly and non-judgemental manner.
Well worth buying for anyone.
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on 17 November 2014
What I love about this book is that it's straightforward, simple, and really clear. It isn't the kind of self-help book that puts stars in your eyes and guarantees instant self-actualisation, like many pop-psychology books tend to blurb. This book confronts you gently. It makes you uncomfortable -- and it makes you recognise the fact that you feel this way. I couldn't help smiling as I read it, because it made me hyper-aware of the defenses I was putting up even while reading it. This is a practical, simple, and lucidly written guide that is invaluable reading for anyone who is experiencing difficulty, or knows someone experiencing difficulty in managing their emotional responses (e.g., anger, anxiety, self-pity, neediness, aggression, etc.), or for anyone who is simply interested in how the human mind works. It's work, no doubt, to do the exercises honestly (and in complete privacy, where you can be completely honest with yourself), but this book is almost as good as going to a real live therapist, and I can't recommend it enough.
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on 21 March 2015
This is a fabulous book with practical exercises designed to support reflection and further understanding regarding the concepts explored. Highly accessible and well written; a real find.
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on 2 April 2015
An excellent introduction to psychodynamic theory for the layman. Burgo writes in a jargon free way giving the reader a clear understanding of how psychological defence mechanisms both hinder emotional development and protect against pschological injuries that occur on a daily basis.
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on 18 January 2016
Extremely clear book on defences and beautifully written. The only other author I have read who writes about psychoanalysis in such an accessible way is Stephen Grosz.
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on 17 May 2016
This is a thoroughly engaging introduction to a central aspect of psychoanalysis: the defense mechanisms. It is written in an accessible and lively manner by Joseph Burgo, a psychotherapist for some 35 years. Whats more, it has a strong practical element consisting of exercises that the reader can try out by way of understanding how these defense mechanisms may be operating on a daily basis in our lives. I am still going through the book, and am finding it really helpful not only in understanding aspects of myself, but also in my therapeutic work.
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