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on 21 August 2016
This is a great book. It concisely brings together a collection of psychodynamic ideas that are often explored in very complicated esoteric ways. The author uses ideas of common humanity and personality psychology to discuss different defences and how they play out, and importantly how to live well with them. This is a book I can see myself re-reading and revisiting a number of times. Really worthwhile purchase.
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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 6 February 2017
Book content very informative but text on my kindle paperwhite went to grey instead of black 80% into the book. Very wearing on the eyes and not at all enjoyable. No option to change text to black.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 December 2016
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on 14 January 2017
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on 17 November 2016
This excellent book, (which is worth reading by clinicians and sufferers), explains the classic defense mechanisms as understood from a psychodynamic perspective. These defenses protect us from emotional pain, but may get in the way of growth and development. They are too painful to bear, may conflict with our morality, or undermine our self-image, and they can be habitual. They may sometimes be useful. I work as a cbt therapist and it made me think what the CBT equivalents are.

The defenses he describes are:
Repression: (when an uncomfortable feeling is pushed from awareness). An example is feelings of annoyance at a child are pushed out of awareness.
CBT equivalent: avoidance
Denial (we deny that an uncomfortable fact is true). Example ‘There’s no way that I made that mistake’. These mechanisms may be associated with anger.
CBT equivalent: avoidance of thoughts, thought suppression?

Displacement: (when a feeling such as anger is transferred to some other object e.g. kicking the cat instead of boss, anger at baby for crying, taken out on husband!).
CBT equivalent: ?
Reaction formation (turning a feeling into its exact opposite). This is associated with shame. Person who is gay starts a campaign against gays. The reformed ‘born again’ smoker.
CBT equivalent: over-compensatory rule, schema over -compensation.

Splitting: is a response to ambivalence, and strong feelings of hatred, serving to simplify the former and eliminate awareness of the latter. So when we are ambivalent/uncertain, there is a pull to resolve this. It is more comfortable to align ourselves with one, and completely reject the other.
CBT equivalent: black and white thinking/intolerance of uncertainty.

Idealisation: (Seeing somebody as perfect to avoid uncomfortable feelings about them). Common in romantic relationships. Possibly in Bipolar disorder?? Idealizing ourselves to avoid uncomfortable feelings about self is common in Narcissism. Can be associated with splitting.
CBT equivalent: cognitive avoidance? Over-compensatory rule. Schema overcompensation.

Projection: Getting rid of a feeling and transferring it to someone else. ‘It’s not me that’s difficult it’s her’. May be associated with guilt. May be associated with splitting.
CBT equivalent: cognitive avoidance??

Control: try to gain complete control of things to ward off anxiety.
CBT equivalent: rule about control.

Thinking/Rationalising/intellectualising: repeatedly thinking about something as a way to avoid the discomfort of it. Thinking can have good or bad effects
CBT equivalent: Worry/rumination etc.

Defenses against shame (awareness of a serious defect in self): defenses are usually narcissism; blaming; contempt.
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on 6 August 2017
Highly recommended it.
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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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on 9 July 2013
I don't usually write reviews for the books I buy from Amazon, but for this one- I had to. This one stands out.
'Why do I do that?' actually affords you great insight into your own behaviour via its unconscious underpinnings- this is the kind of insight that would usually cost you seventy pounds per hour (at least). This is unusual and incredibly refreshing in its style, it does not follow the usual self-help format (for which I personally am very grateful!).

I genuinely understand myself and even the other people around me, so much better because of this book.
If you need expert help but can't quite afford psychotherapy or are on a long waiting list to receive it? Buy this book. This actually helps.
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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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