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Feeling Strong: The Achievement of Authentic Power Hardcover – October 8, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (October 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688175775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688175771
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,679,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While the jacket copy suggests a self-help title, this latest book from Person (The Sexual Century) is really a history of theories of power, as revealed through close readings of psychoanalytic theory, literature and popular culture. According to Person, a physician and professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, Western culture is enamored of a "pornography of power"-in love with images of dominance and subordination. But really, she argues, power works more subtly. According to Person, there are two major kinds of power: interpersonal (the kind we exert over others, or feel exerted over ourselves) and personal (the kind we experience as strength, self-confidence and, in trendy parlance, "empowerment"). Drawing, with varying degrees of efficacy, on sources as diverse as Freud, The Sopranos, Eugene O'Neill, Hannah Arendt and Edith Wharton, Person's book seeks to explain why we are relentlessly seduced by the image of holding power over others and less able to draw on its strength for ourselves. She argues that intimacy and power are not, as we generally like to believe, mutually exclusive, but rather interdependent, as evidenced in both everyday personal relationships and--in its most explicit form-- sado-masochistic ones. Person is at her best when musing on less obvious exercises of power, such as the tense, ambivalent power relations that exist between mother and child, or the way in which games like Pok‚mon allow kids, if only in the realm of make-believe, to experience the thrill of holding control over others. "Authentic power," she writes, "is the ability to live fully, with few regrets and fewer recriminations"-a sentiment readers may welcome in a world where corporate and political recriminations are common by-products of power.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Psychoanalyst Person (clinical psychiatry, Columbia Univ.) renders a weighty intellectual account of empowerment, a topic often plumbed in self-help circles. Filled with research findings, life stories, and thoughts from the books of best-selling authors (e.g., Judith Viorst, Deborah Tannen, Susan Faludi), this work covers types of power (e.g., creative, coercive, charismatic), how people's interactions foster or negate the use of power, and enlightenment, or "authentic" power. Person clearly explains that the inner struggle between wanting power and feeling powerless is rooted in our psyches and carries over into adulthood, ultimately determining our intestinal fortitude. Compassion toward ourselves plays a major role in resolving this tug of war. The book is not practical enough for the task of building self-empowerment skills, but the author's notion that the resistance that grows in the disempowered must be addressed to bring about global communication rather than global unrest is an important tack not typically explored. Recommended for larger public libraries in a category bridging self-help and mainstream psychology.
Lisa Liquori, M.L.S., Syracuse, NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By MrTwistoff on June 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I agree with the Publisher's Weekly Review in that this is not so much a self help book as an academic treatise on the many aspects of power.

The author does draw the distinctions between external (associative) power, and internal (authentic) power. The distinction involves power trappings (power over others) vs. true power (power over oneself). Personally I would have enjoyed a greater discussion of consclusions in the latter arena. However, the work is designed as an academic analysis of power - with the major conclusion being drawn that psychoanalysis failed early on to develop a comprehensive theoretical foundation of human power (because the "church of psychoanalysis" was embroiled in its own internal power struggles - thus to look at such an issue would have required a humility that was not present in the founders. Like any church, at that point, the institution had become more important than the message).

The book does an exceptional job in its purpose - reviewing and analyzing the various forms of power, and providing excellent insights into their sources (the need which drives their capture). The style, the vocabulary, the analysis, is academic. If you are comfortable reading in depth dissection this will be a fine read for you.

If you are looking for a self-help analysis that will provide you with a clear path to change, this is not it. It is neither a light read, nor a how to manual.

The book was not what I expected, but as an academic work in the analysis of power it was far more than I could have expected. It is well balanced, thorough, and provides connective thought to seemingly disparate principles. As long as you are comfortable with this kind of text, you will find it an interesting an insightful read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By L. Stanley on April 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Having given this book a chance because my interests had taken me across Buddhist Psychoanalysts such as Epstein and Batchelor, I was quite impressed by the in-depth and easily understood concept behind power in our lives. Although I hadn't read Person previosly, I am now excited to pick up a few more volumes of her work. Not only was she very informative, providing historical information and personal examples but the chapters flowed well and kept me interested, I finished it in 4 days.

She mentions quite a bit about the science's founder, Sigmund Freud, and gives a thorough case-by-case where power is found in all of our interpersonal and personal relationships. Moving from parental, business and romantic types of examples really brought a familiarity to the table that I hadn't anticipated.

Person thinks power is a much overlooked issue in the world of psychoanalysis and seems to provide quite a window for one to see how right she may be.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. McCook on November 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Excellent in depth, substance and in writing style. Her grasp of the subject matter feels deep, meaningful, and compassionate. The writing is smooth, authentic, and powerful. The repetitition is instructive, pressing home the fundamental truths without ever becoming tedious. This book is excellent in every way.

Roger McCook
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By MovieMusic on December 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is a perfect example of why psychoanalysis is a doomed profession. A therapist with deep feelings of weakness and vulnerability writes a book about how to be strong and powerful. Every psychoanalyst who has ever practiced has unresolved feelings which pollute the therapy she provides. And even writing a book like this still leaves her unhealed.

The subtitle is "The Achievement Of Authentic Power". My question : what is inauthentic power? The title, like the text, is nonsense, well-intentioned nonsense I'm sure, but nonsense all the same.

I bought the book as a cheap remainder, to see how someone could spend 400 pages talking about something that doesn't exist. It's well written, but unreadable because it's so derivative and pointless. The only way to feel strong is to feel deeply buried early life feelings of powerlessness. End of story. Book not necessary. More trees still standing.
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