Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
Heavily negative but somewhat useful
on 12 April 2012
I was attracted to this book not because I felt a mid-life crisis looming but because the author is a Jungian analyst who seemed to offer some useful insights into Jungian psychology. Anyone who attempts to read Jung's books knows how dense and inaccessible a lot of his writing can be, and for this reason we desperately need Jungian thinkers who can simplify the great man's ideas and insights. Hollis definitely does this at times, although his 'author's persona' is extremely negative. Many times a sentence will begin with the word 'sadly' followed by a general despairing attitude toward the nature of the psyche; it's as though Hollis is himself troubled and full of gloom, despite trying to communicate ideas that counteract such negativity. Also, far too often the author seems to be directing his writing at troubled people, as though he expects the majority of his readers to be severely depressed and in need of some sympathetic 'book therapy'. That may be you, but then again it might not be. Like me, you may have a positive, constructive attitude toward the challenges of the psyche - if you do you'll find Hollis to be totally the wrong 'book doctor' to visit, such is the heavy manner with which his writing makes the assumption that the reader is in a total state of despair. The word 'misery' in the title should already tell you the tone the author is striking.
Also, the book focuses far too much on the psychological processes involved in divorce and partner-reconcilation. Again it's like he's narrowed his audience down and made the assumption that not only are you miserable but surely a 'love-gone-wrong' scenario must be to blame too. If you're happily married or happily single you'll find yourself wading through several chapters that are irrelevant to your circumstances. Although those chapters are still interesting from an objective point of view.
It's interesting that Jungian theory explores how we 'project' our own inner complexes onto outer people and objects - and many times you find that even modern day Jungian analysts are doing exactly the same thing. Hollis seems to be an example of this. The book then becomes somewhat more fascinating not just for the occasional wisdom, but to see just how shadow-possessed the author is, whether he knows it or not! In one telling sentence, Hollis does actually confess that he himself was formerly a patient in psychotherapy - that made perfect sense judging by his negative posturing. I'm not sure he's worked out his own demons yet. Then again, how many Jungians have? Possibly Marie Louise von Franz was among the few who did, and for the best interpretation of Jungian ideas, she's as good as it gets.
But if you can get past this author's relentless assumptions that you must be miserable and alienated in the first place, there are some valid, useful insights in this book. All i wanted to see was a clearer rendering of Jung's complicated theories, I didn't need to be treated like a borderline psychotic who hates the world. Of course, if you are miserable, alienated and do hate the world, you'll gobble this book down quite quickly. After all, misery likes miserable company.