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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
A User's Manual for the Human Experience
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on January 21, 2015
I had posted a review of this work some time ago giving it glowing praise, which is deserved. Then it became one star with no review so here I am again to say this is a great toolbox for dismantling the universe and rebuilding it to suit one's self. This book, like many Zen books (not to be confused with books about Zen) seem nice enough but really come to life when one is confronted by situations that may induce suffering. This book not only helps point a way out but helps to build a life where the soul mosquitoes of life are not allowed in. It's a must for any book shelf. Kudos Michael and Debra!
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on February 21, 2011
If the title of this book interests you at all, buy it, read it, and pass it on!

Michael W. Dean keeps getting better with every book he puts on the shelf. This one is his most informative, empirical and inspirational to date. Every word jumps off the page and hops right inside your "think tank".
The author doesn't tell you what to do with different "toxic" problems in your life. He simply shows you different ways to deal with those problems. Positive ways to shield yourself from conflict without igniting new conflicts or feeding the flame of an existing one. I'd suggest picking this book up if you have ever had any problems at all in your life, not just substance abuse. This isn't just an alternative to 12 step programs. A User's Manual for the Human Experience is exactly what the title says.
It might be time to cut out any negativity that's been keeping you from enjoying your life. This book will help you do just that. Reading this book isn't like having someone tell you what to do to improve your life. The author won't guide you through the human experience. Instead he shares his experiences and some other people's experiences with you, to help you undestand what works and what doesn't work. The essence of the book isn't some self-help propanganda being shoved down your throat. Painting a picture of some perfect life that you will live, as long as you do exactly what the book tells you to do. This book is different. You will forget that you're reading a book because it's like sitting next to a friend and listening to him share his "experience, strength and hope".
A User's Manual for the Human Experience is different from other self-help books because the author, Michael W. Dean, has a soul, (unlike most other self-help authors), and he wants everyone to free their soul from everything that is holding them down or holding them back. Reconnect with your individuality and ideals. Find whatever it is that drives you and leave every "toxic", waste of time in the rear view mirror. Freedom is real. It's in everyone's deck of cards that life has dealt them. If you don't have it in your hand then let this book reshuffle the deck for you.
Want to better yourself? Have more time to do what you want and protect yourself from any person or thing that will keep you from doing just that? Then please READ THIS BOOK AND PASS IT ON!
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on January 11, 2011
I'm a skeptical person and not a 12 stepper. More of the Albert Ellis/Tom Horvath school of Cognitive Behavioral. Michael Dean has taken a rational approach to speaking of both the good and bad of the 12 steps that mostly revolted me, as I never agreed with "step one" of "admitting I was powerless", and he also covers the cartoon of people that become "meeting addicts that guzzle coffee" instead of working on fixing their lives. That's just trading one hobby/habit/obsession for another in MY book. He's more charitable about it in his book.

I never much thought about getting rid of toxic people in my life on the level that he has explored it, and he has a lot of good points as to how one might politely go about getting rid of people that drag you down that aren't able to turn around but often drag you back into the pit you're trying to climb out of.

Most "self-help" books are written to make money or have a huge agenda. Mr. Dean presents tools that have worked for him and offers to let you try them. Practical rather than cult-like. I would recommend this book to anybody with toxic people and/or habit issues. The parts on resolving boundaries with other people are really well thought out and would be worth reading just for the ideas on setting boundaries and making them stick to most EVERYBODY. The world is FULL of people who don't realize how often they let people waste their time and intrude in their lives to personal detriment. A person can get a lot of their life sidetracked if they aren't careful who they let in and around them.
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on May 24, 2009
Unhappy? Unsuccessful? Dissatisfied with life? Even after reading a stack of self help books?

Put those books in a pile and burn them. Or stack them into four piles, put a slab of plywood on top to make a coffee table.

Michael Dean has what you want--a big bag of life tools to fix your problems once and for all.

Unhappy? Probably you're spending all your time trying to make your Serenity Vampires happy. Michael Dean shows you how to keep the vampires at bay. See Chapters 1-12 for "Practical Emotional Self Defense."

Unsuccessful? Michael Dean charts your course. How to cut out the soul-killing, energy-sucking "life flab" and get on with it. See Chapters 13-17 for a "Life Amplification" plan.

Dissatisfied? Dean asks you the hard questions about why. Up to you to answer them.

Why should you take his word for it? Dean's been there, and back. Hit the bottom, and the top. Done it on his own, without help, and against the odds. Been a rock star, a junkie, a successful filmmaker, homeless, a published and widely read author.

Why should you take my word? I've been through the mill too. Like everybody. Some of us wallow in victimhood. Some of us rise above. Michael Dean is one. You can be too--if you read this book.
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on January 30, 2017
2012 was a rough year for my family. Over the course of ten months my family lost 5 of our core members, including my father, my wife's mother, the uncle I was named for, and most shocking, our young son-in-law. Our daughter was devastated, to say the least. We all reacted and responded differently, but one of the things that helped my daughter cope with her loss was this book; A User's Manual for the Human Experience by Michael W Dean.
Michael is a survivor. As such, he has learned how to survive while maintaining your sanity when all the world turns insane. This is not a snuggly feel good book. Michael is an honest straight forward guy who deals with issues in an honest straight forward way. When Michael writes there is no need to read between the lines. He tells you exactly what he wants you to hear. Consider A User's Manual for the Human Experience as a drawer in a tool box, containing the specific items you need to deal with life and the people in your life that seem to trip you for the sheer purpose of watching you fall.
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on April 11, 2017
I actually downloaded this book from the Freedom Feens torrent/RSS feed as an audio book. Wow...book is basically 4 parts. How to keep toxic people out of your life or at least block them, The AA 12 step breakdown and it shows how you can break it down into 2 steps, How to manage time and get "stuff" done, and letters to past self and from future self (best part of the book IMO just slightly over every other part of the book). If you need someone to lay it down in everyday terms from someone who has been there, then this is most certainly the book for you. Buy 2 and give one away and they will be very happy you did (Not a Guarantee). He lays down some very deep and personal stories from his life and that just makes this one book very special. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you will shiver when he hits home and touches your very soul. Keep toxic people at arms length, manage your addiction, and then manage your life. I have no more words you just have to read it.
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on September 16, 2009
Michael, Not Mike
By Susan Callaway, Editor
The Price of Liberty.org

Michael W. Dean is a self confessed middle aged man who never expected to live to be 30. He has written a remarkable book about his early struggles with multiple addictions and rock star fame, wanting only to share his journey into hell - and out of hell into peaceful, productive life.

Yes, there are a thousand self help books available, and every "method" under the sun to choose from. But rather than preaching or giving you endless "method," Michael simply shares what happened to him and how he found his way from certain death to vibrant life.

'"A User's Manual for the Human Experience" sets the foundation with the "only two rules":

Do not initiate or accept aggression
Keep your word

Yes, it's just about that simple.

These two "rules," applied to all of our actions and choices, lead us to reevaluate the things we may have considered immutable roadblocks and yawning chasms - all the things that have prevented us from realizing our dreams.

Addictions come in all shapes and sizes. The best known are alcohol and drugs, but they are not even the most common - believe it or not.

How about an addiction to guilt, to living in misery and pain because you can't stop trying to "fix" broken people, usually the very people who are abusive and incapable of either love or integrity? This is called "co-dependence" and accounts for most of the divorce, domestic violence and empty relationships that abound in our society.

Is there a cure? I'll let you read '"A User's Manual for the Human Experience" and find out for yourself.
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on April 15, 2009
WARNING: Michael W. Dean is NOT your next door neighbor. Michael has been to hell and back, from homeless junkie to published author and talented filmmaker. His story is heartbreaking and what he's been able to accomplish can't be told by anyone else. He's done what few people can do and has gone where few people have been. Who better to learn self-help from than a man who has actually LIVED it (unlike those PhD-authored books void of personal experience and impersonal writing)? If you are an overly conservative type, this may not be your match. If you can't handle hearing truth, you probably shouldn't read it or should wait to pick it up until you can. If you aren't ready to make any changes in your life, it probably won't do you much good. But if you are truly serious about making positive changes in your life and approach the material with an open mind, you will take something (if not plenty) from it that you can apply to your own situation and start living the life you want to lead.

I'm a big fan of this author, who has written everything from college text books to blogs, all aimed at providing his audience with crucial pieces of knowledge that provide insight and the tools necessary to take your talent and life to the next level. Michael W. Dean's books are sprinkled with life lessons, educational materials and furry kitties, all the while speaking directly to you as a reader. Upon reading his writings, I was surprised at what fascinating reads they made and it occurred to me that if all school texts were written in this manner, I would have actually read them and we'd all be getting straight A's.

This author has a gift for sharing knowledge and being brave enough to use personal real life examples to demonstrate lessons learned. He creates art and tells stories that tug at the heartstrings and produce great results if taken seriously. He doesn't seem out to make a quick buck but rather make materials that will improve lives and actually be seen and read by people who long for change and creative solutions. This guy screams cool. And his work and style taught me a lot about the value of living for your art and the integrity of your work.

I learned so much from reading "A User's Guide To The Human Experience". I learned many new ways to deal with life problems and find a healthier balance in my own life. Some of the information echoed paths I was already beginning to embark on but I needed someone to reinforce it and tell me it was ok to make certain changes I was in the process of initiating, which this book fully did. I am confident that this book armed me with several tools that will continue to aid me in having the best life possible and I wouldn't want to deny any of you the opportunity to improve something and apply it to your life, thus this recommendation. I was happy to tell my friends about it and am pleased to put in my two cents for all of you. It spoke to me in a manner I could relate to and brought into focus the next steps I need to embark upon to continue to evolve into the butterfly I am aiming to be.

Some of this book covers a lot of tips and tidbits about recovery. I have never been an addict. However, this book is about all around life improvement and even the recovery bits were very insightful and taught a lot of valuable things that can be applied in other ways. As far as self-help books are concerned, this one seems to cover it all and gave me the inspiration I was looking for and the strength I needed to go for it. Great book from what must obviously be a great man.
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on June 21, 2010
Off the bat I have to say that Dean's book $30 Film School changed my life, so I've been following his blog and new releases ever since. Even though the self-help subject of this book wasn't a field I was interested in, I bought it anyway. I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I figured I would.

The book is basically a two-parter. The first and biggest section focuses on how to recover from co-dependency of toxic people and dependency of alcohol and drugs. I can't say much on the latter subject, but I do know that on the topic of toxic people, I wish I had a time machine, this book, and a heavy set of boots. That way I travel a few years back, hand my past self this boot, and give myself a swift kick in the ass. Reading it now I've mostly just nodded and winced in hindsight, though a few of his techniques I've put into place recently with great success.

The second part is how to make the best use of your time after all the toxic people are gone. It's a smaller section than the first but has lots of helpful tidbits about time management and how to work toward making a living though your own creations. It's one part tech book, one part cheerleader, and one part drill sargent.

Now here's the caveat. There's a hearty dose of politics injected into the book and lots of sprinklings of spirituality. If you're hardline into your concept of God, either that he has a very set biblical definition or that he's an Invisible Sky Wizard, you might get turned off. And also there's a lot of talk about self-defense and guns, which I know can be a touchy subject for people for a variety of reasons. Growing up in West Virginia, I have a healthy respect for guns that coupled with my other ideals gets me dicked over by both major political parties (that's a whole nother subject), but I can understand that other people might get wary of all the gun talk. There were a few ideas he went into that I didn't necessarily agree with, but I find that it's always good to things you don't agree with to keep yourself in check and - gasp - maybe change your mind or get exposed to a new idea.

What I liked best about the book was its conversational tone. Dean isn't afraid to get heavy and dark sometimes, but also has a sense of humor. The book doesn't read like a textbook at any point, which is definitely a kudos. A lot of the self-help bs gurus haven't really lived the sort of life they're trying to correct in others, but Dean's talked about some of his struggles in previous books, so you know he's legit.

To be honest, my biggest pain point was that it sometimes gets into jargony territory, and that's something I'm willing to overlook. If you're trying to get out of a bad relationship of any type, I would highly recommend this book. I've already lent it out to some of my friends I thought needed it.
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on June 22, 2017
This is one of those rare books that changed my life.

It is not easy to read, because it makes you face some hard truths about yourself, and some of the people around you.

But it also gives some great insight on how to reach your goals, outside of the traditional, methods of "go to school, get a job, collect a paycheck".

the insights Michael provides in this book are more relevant now than ever.
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