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But Please Balance the books!
on 26 August 2006
This book is has given me many useful insights into the whys and hows of emotionally abusive behaviour. The other reviewers here have effectively listed it's many plus points.
However, the title says "How to Recognize, Understand and *Deal* with People Who Try to Control You
I had hoped for more concrete methods described in the dealing with controllers aspect. The book's concluding chapters seemed to me to consist of many quotes from people congratulating either themselves or Evans on having 'broken the spell'. I found it hard to distil firm techniques that would help me practice spellbreaking. The abuse I witness is very subtle and hard to pin down and confront in the workplace and the methods mentioned seem to me best suited for "In your face" abuse.
Finally so many books and websites on abuse and bullying are overtly gender biased and Patricia Evan's book is no exception. I think a better balanced insight could have been gained from illustrating the patterns of control and abuse with more examples of people abused by female partners or colleagues. When the "typical" gender dynamic is reversed it really does highlight the power and recurring pattern of controlling abusive behaviour.
The path to becoming an abuser is not a "Man thing". It can flow from mother to daughter from wife to husband, even employee to boss! Being a target of abuse is not the female prerogative.
Myself, my father, my partner and her father, have all been the objects of "control connections" from spellbound women and those women in turn were the victims of maternal abuse and neglect.
I feel the book's bias is disingenous because I would have thought it more empowering to recognise and emphasise that abusive behaviour is not gender specific but that it is simply it's own self-perpetuating legacy. More examples of female to male or same gender incidents could've illustrated her points as well as, if not better than the limited spectrum of "typical" abusive relationships she presents.
Also many men, my father included, remain in denial (spellbound) about their situation. This is a good book but its predominately female perspective still allows him to say "This doesn't apply to me" or worse "It *is* my fault - I'm the abuser!"
Despite these misgivings I will still be recommending "Controlling people" to friends and relatives who have found themselves in the thrall of "spellbound" behaviour.