I have another work by Stephen Johnson, entitled "Humanizing the Narcissistic Style" and I find them both to be of a high academic standard. Although published in 1985, there is nothing much new coming out of the field of "Object Relations/Ego Psychology", but this remains a seminal work in that area. What I found most useful was his typographical setting out of "Character Analysis" against the backdrop of Object Relations/Character Analytic Perspective/Ego Psychology and Conflict Versus Deficits in Explaining Human Pathology (all sub-titles) re-visiting, if not re-defining core terminology. Brilliant! He manages to integrate a number of major schools of therapeutic thinking - choosing techniques from a broad base to work on strengthening ego functioning. According to the Jacket Sleeve of the book- "Each intervention fits within behavioral, affective or cognitive domain, change in all three domains being necessary for lasting chacterological change". Ambitious? yes! Well researched? Indeed!
Apart from Alexander Lowen, Stephen Johnson is the only author whose books I have read more than twice. Johnson combines the character analysis of Wilhelm Reich and Alexander Lowen (without distortion or dilution) with more mainstream therapies. This does a great service to therapists practicing in today's climate. Johnson is willing to go into the tough stuff and the dark stuff, which few other therapists are willing to touch. His honesty, compassion, and humility are evident. This is not an easy book, but well worth digesting. Johnson writes in a academic style, probably because he was trying ( probably futilely) to open academia to the value of character analysis and bodywork. This book covers two 'character styles' that have the most 'hard work' to do to get back to good feelings--the oral and schizoid characters. If one is looking for an introduction to character analysis Lowen's Bioenergetics: The Revolutionary Therapy That Uses the Language of the Body to Heal the Problems of the Mind or Johnson's own Character Stylesare possibly better places to start, but this book treats the subject with unmatched sensitivity.
As a student of the Brennan School of Healing, I am interested in the energetic as well as the psychological/emotional components of healing. This book blends them better than any other book I've come across. He shows exercises, that I believe are derived from Bioenergetics, which aid the client in touching into their hidden pain. They are designed to be easy to perform yet productive in getting past the blocks. The only drawback is that this book only addresses the schizoid and oral characterologies in depth. I'm hoping he does another volume on the remaining characterologies.