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Talking Back to Dr. Phil: Alternatives to Mainstream Psychology Paperback – February 5, 2013
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“David Bedrick takes on Dr. Phil in an intelligent, sensitive way that readers will find enlightening and validating. He uses Dr. Phil as a foil to give expression to a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of hot issues like race, gender, diet, sex, and power relationships. Here is the anti–Dr. Phil—at last, someone who can stand up knowledgeably to Dr. Phil’s suave bullying.” —Robert W. Fuller, PhD, author, Somebodies and Nobodies
“At last someone is taking on Dr. Phil with good sense and great humor. Life isn’t a sixty-minute show where people just come in for the laying on of hands. Life is about working it all out with family, community, and love. Good for Mr. Bedrick to decide to pull off the gloves and have an emotional slugfest with an over-the-high-school bully. Talking Back to Dr. Phil is a must read. But not at dinnertime . . . you’ll be laughing too hard to eat.” —Nikki Giovanni, author, Love Poems
“David Bedrick understands that real change or transformation requires challenging accepted dogma and then approaching problems with compassion and curiosity. A great advocate for stopping the madness of body hatred and dieting.” —Jane R. Hirschmann and Carol H. Munter, authors, Overcoming Overeating
“David Bedrick gets it right. He isn’t talking back just to Dr. Phil but to a whole century of normative psychology, an approach to mental health that has more to do with socialization than with well-being. Bedrick adds a crucial missing piece to the equation: love. Not just ordinary love but love of our uniqueness, diversity, and struggles—a kind of love sorely missing in mainstream psychology. A modern-day Walt Whitman, Bedrick sings the beauty of our humanity and exhorts us to do the same, to prize the deepest levels of our diversity and express the many wonderful, crazy, and colorful ways there are of being human.” —Julie Diamond, PhD, coauthor, A Path Made by Walking
“David Bedrick contrasts mainstream psychology with a new approach based on love and radical belief. Mainstream psychology tells us we are sick, bad, or wrong. But for Bedrick our fatigues, aches, pains, anxieties, low moods, and even the difficulties we encounter in our jobs and relationships are all growing opportunities without which we would not develop more awareness. I agree with Bedrick that our sickness deserves our love because it contains the medicine toward our wholeness and well-being.” —Pierre Morin, MD, PhD, coauthor, Inside Coma
“This groundbreaking book demystifies mainstream psychology by calling out Dr. Phil, showing not only the limitations of his approach, which seeks to restore and maintain ‘normal’ behavior, but how it perpetuates a mode of psychologizing that reinforces the very pathology it purports to heal. David Bedrick reveals symptoms as allies assisting in growth and insight rather than as signs of sickness or deviations from a norm. And rather than focus only on individuals, he demonstrates how society fosters disturbances that, when processed, contribute to transforming not only the individuals but their relationships, groups, and potentially society itself. As such, Bedrick offers new directions for addressing some of the most perplexing issues of our time, from lying and pornography to addiction and racism.” —Herbert D. Long, ThD, Dipl. PW, former dean and Francis Greenwood Peabody lecturer, Harvard University
“For many women, it is revolutionary to realize that what will silence the accusatory inner body-image voice isn’t losing weight but rather listening to the body’s wisdom. It could definitely be said that the essays on diet and body image in this book are a work of spirit through and through.” —Andrea Hollingsworth, PhD, assistant professor of Christian thought, Berry College
“A breath of fresh air to those who have been hurt and put down by the righteous morality and shame of popular psychology. Bedrick, in daring to pull back the veil of the status quo, reveals an approach that invites self-discovery, finds meaning and purpose in problems, and values the social challenges of our times. Anyone who longs for the freedom of their own individual path of heart will be uplifted by this book.” —Dawn Menken, PhD, author, Speak Out! Talking about Love, Sex and Eternity
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line by line. concept by concept. framing and contextualising it within various prejudices and biases of 'modern life', sexism, and numerous family and cultural norms. David manages to provide insight into another paradigm that makes us think - is there another way to think? is there another way to be? could there be meaning in all this madness?
David helps us question - what and where is the madness really? believing what society tells us and how that slowly strangles and stupifies us? or trusting to something deeper and more mysterious.. that we can't quite fathom yet, but maybe, maybe ... there's all those stories and anecdotes of people who've tried something different and have found actually a much more sane and satisfying life.
Dr Phil of course is a good hearted guy who means well and tries really hard to help people. What David does, is critique that help to decipher what Really helps and which may hinder. All of us are capable of intending well and ending up stuffing up. Its hard to do this in public and sometimes we get caught up in our own hype and things become habitual without ongoing critique. All of us need critique...
David is courageous and bold in writing such an intelligent book. I'm very grateful.
The chapters are very well-structured close readings of various "Dr. Phil" episodes, that end up complicating the simple story that comes off the screen. Bedrick is clear enough that you get a good sense of what the episode itself is doing, or trying to do, and he's fair enough that his own counter-reading is not just against a straw-man. Bedrick then zooms out to cover the larger issues in play, and the combination of example and big-picture works very well.
The larger pictures that Bedrick presents emphasize the complexity of our social lives, and the ways in which a larger context can change how we perceive the individuals at the center of a conflict. He includes material on how (e.g.) gender issues can complicate contexts, but his true focus is on individuals, and he's not an identity politics type. Bedrick tends to emphasize the role of creativity and imagination in conflict solving (which I love) but also leaves room for more traditional ideas such as self-discipline and self-examination.
Because doing my job well involves mentorship and collaboration-building across professional cultures, I spend a certain amount of time reading and learning about conflict management, professional coaching and self-development. Bedrick's book is on my kindle with a number of other more "mainstream" books; I take an eclectic approach to these questions, and am happy to pick and choose what works. I've never seen Dr. Phil, but it's a nice hook.