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Mardi Horowitz, M.D. is Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. He has been president of the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute, the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, and the Society for Psychotherapy Research. He has directed the NIMH Center for the Study of Neuroses and the Program on Conscious and Unconscious Mental Processes of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He is a founding member of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and the Society to Explore Psychotherapy Integration.
This scholarly book tackles a theme that mass market books can only dance around - how children grow up in families where one or more of the parents have an identifiable mental illness such as neurosis which results in bizzare (although often subtle) actions, and unpredictable and inappropriate behavior around the kids. The basic theme of this book is the way that familys and child development can produce life-long problems with relationships (neurosis) and aggression (personality disorder). Although it acknowledges the extreme difficulty of proving this, it lays out a scholarly, thorough, and compelling case. It touches on a series of intertwined developmental issues, which mass market books would have dealt with separately. This prevents mass market readers from the seeing how these problems are related. This includes issues of promiscuity, what other books would call "low self esteem," substance abuse, gender confusion, repeated destructive relationships, sadism, compulsive sexual behavior, asexual behavior, feminine role-playing in women, fake hyper-masculine behavior in men, and the way that all these defense are mobilized to sabotage relationships and counseling. Although sex plays a role in many of these problems, there is nothing salacious about this book. The tone is not dry, but sometimes amusingly old-fashioned. There is also a thorough examination of role of adults that act out their repressed hostilities through their children. And the explanation of how adults encourage to children to act out the adults' repressed sexual desires is downright eerie, but seems right on target in an era where so many adults seem obsessed with pushing inappropriate clothes, movies, books on very small children.Read more ›
this is an excellent book and should be read by anyone dealing with histrionic individuals. the book covers an individual's entire lifeline from baby to adulthood. i found the adulthood information especially helpful. there is plenty of practical material in the book and excellent examples of the therapeutic moment. most professionals know about histrionic behaviors as we experience it all around us. what i learned from the book is the lack of awareness of self versus others, and how they play the passive victim that have a need to be rescued by others. this is a big issue that probably goes unnoticed a lot. i know individuals who place themselves in harm's way, expecting to be rescued by friends, loved ones and professionals. this possibly can be a reason they are attracted to police and people in the military. also fascinating are the dyads between being highly moral and sexaully free, and their lack of awareness of guilt between acting out the roles. histrionics do not understand the nature of healthy relationships, of two people being equal in love. there is always a victim and aggressor that gets played out in unhealthly situations. anyway, i highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the histrionic personality disorder and appreciate the long-term therapeutic alliance that needs to happen.
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Nancy McWilliams recomends this book in her "Psychoanalytic Diagnosis". It looks a bit dated by now but the content is still extremely informative. I have read several books on the subject and this one is as good as any of them.
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