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Cain's Legacy: Liberating Siblings from a Lifetime of Rage, Shame, Secrecy, and Regret Hardcover – January 3, 2012


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Frequently Bought Together

Cain's Legacy: Liberating Siblings from a Lifetime of Rage, Shame, Secrecy, and Regret + The Normal One: Life with a Difficult or Damaged Sibling + Mad House: Growing Up in the Shadow of Mentally Ill Siblings
Price for all three: $40.21

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465019404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465019403
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #379,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Kirkus Reviews
“An important contribution to the self-help bookshelf.” 

Reeve Lindbergh, author of Forward From Here and Under a Wing 
Cain’s Legacy is a compelling, deeply intelligent book about a subject all too often avoided: how destructive relationships between siblings can be, how much a bad sibling relationship can hurt us long after our childhood years are over, and what can be done to acknowledge and repair the damage. Dr. Jeanne Safer has made another courageous, illuminating journey into the dark places of family life.”
 
Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn, author of The Empty Room: Understanding Sibling Loss
“In Cain’s Legacy, Jeanne Safer goes where at least a third of Americans fear to tread—to their troubled and seemingly intransigent relationships with their adult siblings. Safer makes the powerful argument that our brothers and sisters have a profound influence on who we are—even when we appear to be disconnected. For siblings in strife to make peace with the past, and even forge a new present, requires clear-eyed plumbing of the nature of the connection, says Safer. Cain’s Legacy shows you how.”
 
Douglas Mock, George Lynn Cross Research Professor of Zoology, University of Oklahoma, and author of More Than Kin and Less Than Kind: The Evolution of Human Conflict
“In Cain’s Legacy Jeanne Safer unravels the complex emotional dynamics of human sibling relationships.  And I’m glad she does—while most of us make a hash of our dealings with sibs, it helps to know that others are muddling through these issues as well. Her insights on family social tensions help us to understand the incomprehensible.”
 
New York Journal of Books
“Psychotherapist Jeanne Safer’s Cain’s Legacy is highly recommended for those who want to think about siblings in a new way, as well as get critical insights into the area of sibling strife, its causes, and potential remedies.  Dr. Safer digs deep into the world of sibling strife and makes this complex, emotionally charged area accessible to the reader through exceptional organization and conceptual clarity.”

 

Winnipeg Free Press
Cain’s Legacy is an engaging albeit sometimes disturbing exploration of the complex lives of human siblings…. For those suffering troubled relationships with brothers and sisters, Cain’s Legacy may open a door to understanding why and just perhaps the path to reconciliation.”

Midwest Book Review
“Case studies and interviews blend with insights from the author’s own psychotherapy practice in this powerful guide.”

 

About the Author

Jeanne Safer, Ph.D., has been a psychotherapist for thirty-eight years. She is the author of The Normal One, Death Benefits, Beyond Motherhood, and Forgiving and Not Forgiving. She appears frequently on television and radio and lectures widely. She has written for O: The Oprah Magazine, More, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, among other publications. She lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Berkeley '68 on March 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the most insightful and illuminating way, Dr. Jeanne Safer goes beyond analysis to provide practical, helpful advice about how to deal with - or even repair - troubled family bonds that can circumscribe and distort our lives. As in her previous books -- such as Death Benefits: How Losing a Parent can Change an Adult's Life--For the Better and The Normal One: Life with a Difficult or Damaged Sibling, among others -- Cain's Legacy is fearless in its examination of the painful possibilities of difficult sibling relationships. Dr. Safer makes transparently clear why these relationships are so complicated, why the emotions involved, rooted deep in childhood, are so often not just intense but obscured by all those explanations we all manage to weave around issues and events whose full pain or destructive force we don't want to (or can't) confront. She writes with a kind heart and a penetrating intelligence. I really can't imagine anyone not benefiting from her compassionate descriptions and analyses. I know I did.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Doreen Schumacher on September 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
But I am so glad that I gave this book a chance! I found much of this book very validating...other folks out there have struggled as much as I have (and some much more!). The anecdotes and some quotes from affected sibs were absolutley spot on. It is good to read a book that is almost like looking at your own life in a mirror. I found that reading about the subjects in the book was akin to turning a release valve. It took some of my steam and made me look more objectively at my own situation.

If you have struggled with a sibling...I think this book may be of interest to you.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Joan F on March 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As someone with bad relations with my siblings I appreciated that someone was addressing this fundamental and overlooked aspect of development. But it felt as though the author repeatedly labeled a good sibling and a bad sibling and invariably the good sibling was the one with financial success and the bad sibling was a pot smoking bum. I'm sorry, pot smoking bums don't grow up in a vacuum! And really, people are much more complicated and deserve deeper examination than "mom did prefer the good sister". My siblings and I run the gamut from apparent success to really struggling, and from being utterly shut down emotionally to trying to gain some understanding of what happened to us. I was really hoping to read more varied and deeper examinations, and maybe even some examples of healthy sibling relationships... how do healthy adult siblings get along? I gave the book 2 stars just because the author broached the subject. Maybe she'll go back and try again.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on February 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I suppose, given that her previous book is "The Normal One," that I should have expected the author would be too self-congratulatory to move past herself and properly address the issue. Almost without exception, she champions her patients as being the "good" sibling, and casts the patient's sib (who, the save one or two exceptions, the author did interview/meet/treat), as the "bad sib." Just as she describes her own situation. What a surprise. Author routinely fails to properly account for how VERY much the great advantage of being the parent's favorite child accounts for the issues -- the favored sib, now realizing he/she is the favored one, could actually incorporate that information into re-assessing the sibling situation, and take responsibility for part their conduct played-- they felt entitled to be the favorite one. Think that didn't contribute to the sibling strife? And, now knowing they were the favored one, what does author suggest the favored one do to work that knowledge into the way they deal with the sibling strife? Nothing. As with any other unearned privilege, the favorite child is, to her, the one in the right. But, if the favored sib wasn't so blind to the effect that their participation in marginalizing the unfavored sib has had, something the author should be pointing out, not me, perhaps the favored sib could repair a few things. For example, author says she refused to give her brother money. Okay, sometimes that's called for. BUT-- what DID she do to address the sibling issue that she helped create? She's the one who took full advantage of the opportunities her parents created for her by virtue of her being the favorite, so why dies she blame her brother for everything? The book lacks the fair balance that the subject deserves, and for that reason, fails. It's the author's personal growth project, another pat by her on her own back.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jenny Smith on August 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really valued reading Cain's Legacy. What it helped me better realize is how siblings can suffer in very toxic relationships. I felt less isolated after the reading. It's not only me with a crazy family! I gathered from my reading that lack of self and other awareness can be such an issue. My own sibling relations are very troubled. I come from a family where there was significant domestic violence, and have had a lot of really great help in therapy over the years. Reading this book further supported my 'therapy education' which has helped me to feel more compassionate to my siblings, both who suffered greatly at the hands of my parents- both my parents were physically and psychologically abusive. Both my parents were raised in such households. I feel so sad for us all knowing that these inter-generational patterns of dysfunctional behavior, are, in a sense, no-one's fault. Though my situation with one of my siblings is still very difficult, I now better accept that he suffers from many unresolved issues surrounding his childhood. He has had no therapy help in his life and is hell bent on making as much money as he can to prove his worth. Just writing that makes me want to tell him I love him and that he's a good guy. He can't hear that at this point. May be he never will. Who knows? I recommend the book to anyone who wants to gain insight and compassion into the complex and often heart-breaking world of sibling issues.
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