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Character Styles 1st Edition

20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393701715
ISBN-10: 0393701719
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  • Characterological Transformation: The Hard Work Miracle
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephen M. Johnson, Ph.D., is a professor and chair of the faculty at Pacific Graduate School of Psychology in Menlo Park, California. He divides his time between clinical teaching and the private practice of psychotherapy in Menlo Park and San Francisco.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (May 17, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393701719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393701715
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

95 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Silva on May 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Over a ten year period, Stephen M. Johnson wrote a series of extraordinarily useful and well organized books integrating theories of personality development and therapeutic objectives at neurotic and borderline functioning. In the introduction here he writes about his integrated theory: "It is not psychoanalytic, not object relations, not self-psychology or ego psychology. It is not behavioral or cognitive or affective. It is not characterological, developmental, interactive, phenomenological. It is not theoretical, empirical, experiential, intuitive, or deductive. It is all of this and more in a mix. It attempts to answer important questions with the information available. For each of us who are curious about such questions, this is what we must do."
Character Styles includes revised chapters from Characterological Transformation, Humanizing the Narcissistic Style and The Symbiotic Character, but the addition here of chapters on masochistic, hysterical and obsessive-compulsive characters makes the entire series a little masterpiece. Dr. Johnson's work seems to have grown most out of The Symbiotic Character since, as he writes, "the strategies found successful in liberating the symbiotic character can be of nearly universal significance." The first books in the series contain diagrams for energetic body work based on Reich and Lowen that are curiously missing here.
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68 of 69 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Once I started a chapter, I *had* to read it through no matter the hour. Despite the jargon, despite the too infrequent "for example"'s, he clearly describes a dozen friends, relatives and, of course, myself -- *anyone* whose early childhood is known to me. His uncanny grasp of my "inner life" experience astounded me and was worth the price right there. I particularly appreciate his using the same structure for each chapter, always winding up with that style's Therapeutic Objectives. Professionals should also appreciate his indicating what difficulties a therapist can encounter when treating a given style. This is one of the three most important and rewarding books in my forty years of reading.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book was the only text used in my graduate Psychopathology class. Five years later I have gone back again and again for use in my practice. Johnson brilliantly integrates most of the psychodynamic schools of thought to construct a "characterological-developmental" model of motivation, personality development, and treatment of psychopathology. He delineates components of character in terms of etiology, symptoms, cognitive styles, defenses,pathogenic beliefs, self and object representations, and affective characteristics. In addition he outlines treatment goals and objectives for each character in cognitive, affective, and behavioral areas. Johnson manages to bring psychoanalytic terminology down to earth and put it in existential terms (e.g. The Hated Child, The Used Child, etc).

Johnson's work constitute his attempt at constructing a paradigm shift in the sense that he proposes a cohesive integration of psychoanalytic developmental models as a move away from classical drive psychoanalysis. It is at once aesthetically stimulating and immanently useful. It is hard to agree with everything he says, but a paradigm shift is a very ambitious project.

I think it is pretty challenging reading--for the professional or the very dedicated. However, those who stick with it are likely to learn something about themselves (he speaks of "styles" rather than just extreme "personality disorders"), learn valuable lessons about parenting, and understand their relationships better. I agree with a previous reviewer's comment that it is a treasure.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have bought this book a long time ago and it has been invaluable resource. It helped me through my self-managed process of integration. It has helped me understand some of the traits of the people I know. And it has helped me understand that it is sometimes just a fine line that separates a personality trait - or a cluster of traits - and a disorder.
The amount of work behind that book must be impressive. Written with understanding and compassion, this is a wonderful book for layman and professional alike.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Night Owl on September 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I will never part with this book. It's an eye-opener like no other book on human nature that I know of. I wish I read this book when I was younger; it would make my life a whole lot better. I also would've been a better parent. This book should be mandatory reading for every couple that's expecting a child -- but also the adult children with charcterological problems.

I'm just out of words to convey my admiration for Stephen Johnson. The West Coast is lucky to have him and his practice there. I live in Boston and wish I had access to this brilliant psychoterapist as a student or a patient on behalf of somebody else, but who knows, maybe I need it too :-)

The book discusses the most destructive personality types and explains how those personalities were formed in childhood. It also talks how these people should be treated, and the obstacles that therapists and other helpers face with such individuals. Worth every dollar!

I would only ask Dr. Johnson what happens to the character of the person when they were overindulged as a child -- not excessively controlled or abused as is the case with most people who have personality disorders,

Also, the picture on the dust jacket of this book is quite silly and irrelevant -- bu that's the publisher's fault.
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