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Bonds That Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves Hardcover – September, 2001
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About the Author
Dr. C. Terry Warner holds a Ph.D. from Yale University and is a professor of philosophy at Brigham Young University. He has been a visiting senior member of Linacre College, Oxford University, and in 1979 founded The Arbinger Institute, a widely respected group that devotes itself to helping organizations, families, and individuals. he and his wife, Susan, have ten children. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I was thoroughly pleased with the book. The most powerful concept I learned was about self-deception, and how it can define who we are and the decisions we make. The book is filled with many, many short examples to help understand the principles being taught which I found extremely helpful.
This is not a simple feel-good book. I loaned the book to an older friend of mine and she had a hard time understanding it all. I read a few of the stories to my wife and she had a hard time appreciating the significance of the principles through my explanations. You have to be committed to reading and understanding the book to get everything out of it. Mind you, these are not faults with the book -- like any significant breakthrough in understanding it requires work on the reader's part to think about the principles being taught and honestly assessing your own behavior, and then applying the principles to your life.
For anyone seriously interested in improving their own personal happiness I highly recommend this book. It's one of the bst self-help books I've ever read.
Celebrity psychologist Phil McGraw often points out that when two people are in a relationship, they tend to reinforce the other's negative habits, and that people often receive a payback (often unconsciously) from both their negative behavior and the negative behavior of the person. Warner explains such a process in detail in what is an especially fascinating part of the book.
In many ways, this book is quite radical. It suggests that the way to find oneself is to connect with other people in an honest way. It also says that when there is a dysfunctional relationship, to find healing we need to admit where we were wrong -- no matter how wrong the other person was! Warner provides some case studies that at first glance seem shocking -- why should the abuse VICTIM be the one to apologize? Yet on further reflection, the anecdotes he gave made sense. Some of the steps that seemed to radical and/or counterintuitive worked only because the person took the action with the right attitude; Warner goes to great pains to point out that the same action might not be appropriate for someone else to take for different reasons.
I have two major (and related) criticisms to this book:
-- Warner does not adequately explain when (or if) it is appropriate for a person to act in his or her own interests when such an action might be detrimental (or seem that way) to another person. At one point Warner even criticizes self-assertion, although it's not clear exactly what type of self-assertion he is critical of. Surely Warner would agree that we need to set boundaries for ourselves, although he would probably agree that many people set boundaries for the wrong reasons (it's that self-deception thing again). This is an area that needs more explanation in Warner's paradigm.
-- I think it might be easy for some especially vulnerable people to misread this book. Although this isn't Warner's intent, a person who is a doormat might understand this book as saying that it's OK to let another person step all over you. While certainly we should be forgiving of other people, it is also possible (and I don't think Warner would disagree) to extend "cheap grace" to other people, but I'm not sure Warner does a good job of explaining the difference.
Despite these criticisms, I found Warner's book to be one of the most thought-provoking ones I have read in a long time. I'd highly recommend it for anyone who wants an intriguing and meaningful perspective on the human condition.
I believe Warner has chosen his title carefully using the word "free," which is so loaded today. Being "free" today has been confused with being able to choose between 10 brands of VCR or do whatever you want with no thought of the consequences. What Warner advocates is a real freedom, freedom from your human self and its weaknesses. Warner's book will not ensure you won't make bad decisions but it will teach you about the courage to admit when you are in wrong and how to change for the better. That is real freedom.