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I'm in two minds about this
on 26 October 2008
On the one hand, I didn't really discover anything new by reading this book. Unless this book is literally your first step to getting better, you will probably, on some level, already know everything that's within its pages. But lots of information by itself can be overwhelming and so it's easy to be discouraged about facing up to it. On the other hand, where this book is useful is in breaking down and tackling piece by piece your dysfunctional thinking.
I do also like the IDEA that this book gives you exercises to do so that you are no longer passive in your troubles, but you are active in getting to grips with them. In theory that's good, but in practice I have to admit to skipping over many of them. It's easy to persuade yourself that YOU don't need to do them because you can imagine what they're supposed to teach and you've learned that lesson already -- from another book, your therapist or just because it's so obvious anyway.
These exercises mostly involve filling in tables (like the Thought Record), lists and questionnaires. I particularly liked the Thought Record (which is the central idea and tool of the whole book) and I think I can see myself filling out many of these worksheets as the months go by even if I am not confident that they will produce any lasting benefit. However, doing many of these exercises in this book you do feel a little bit like a baby being spoon-fed. But then again you do probably secretly enjoy it too.
Lastly, it is comforting to be reminded that you are not alone in having psychological problems. So I liked the four or five case histories that the reader follows through the book and through the exercises. You could easily empathise with these people and I saw a little bit of myself in many of their thoughts and their experiences. And I'm also glad that in the epilogue we learn that they all got significantly better. But then again the authors would hardly have picked unresponsive cases to highlight.