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Why Do I Do That?: Psychological Defense Mechanisms and the Hidden Ways They Shape Our Lives Paperback – October 26, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This thought-provoking book explores the psychological defense mechanisms Burgo believes all people harbor.  In a congenial tone, the author reiterates that human emotions and their associated defenses [are a] part of everyday life. Exercises at the end of chapters apply techniques for recognizing and defusing oppressive defenses in readers' own lives and bring the book down to a personal level, creating a valuable resource for readers."
Publisher's Weekly

About the Author

Joseph Burgo, Ph.D. has practiced psychotherapy for more than 30 years, holding licenses as a marriage and family therapist and clinical psychologist. He earned his undergraduate degree at UCLA and his masters and doctorate at California Graduate Institute in Los Angeles. He is also a graduate psychoanalyst and has served as a board member, officer and instructor at a component society of the International Psychoanalytic Association. He currently writes the popular blog "After Psychotherapy" where he discusses personal growth issues from a psychodynamic perspective.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: New Rise Press (October 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0988443120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0988443129
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is amazing from every angle! Anyone who's searched through Amazon or any bookstore knows there are mountains of self-help books out there. How do you choose? As a practicing psychotherapist (and someone who's had years of my own therapy), I've tended to steer my clients away from self-help books because they usually oversimplify issues and promote unrealistic expectations which actually sabotage growth. At last, here's a self-help book I can heartily recommend to clients, friends, family, or anyone who asks! This is a one-of-a-kind book which addresses the depth and complexity of human psychology in astonishingly clear, graspable language which the everyday reader will relate to. Along with providing a pretty fascinating review of the most powerful ideas in psychoanalytic thought, it also gives the reader concrete and effective exercises that promote growth and change. And the book keeps getting better as it goes on. it ends by giving the reader a picture of what it is to be "healthy," as opposed to "perfect." Dr. Burgo goes out of his way to show the reader that a person never arrives at personal perfection. He acknowledges change is hard work, but that the rewards of getting out from under the oppression of one's defenses are well worth the effort. Likewise, you'll find this book is well worth the read!
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Format: Kindle Edition
As others reviewers have already said, this is a self-help book which "... addresses the depth and complexity of human psychology in astonishingly clear, graspable language which the everyday reader will relate to. Unfortunately, because of a mediocre editing and poor numbering system, those who will study this book seriously will have some difficulty in locating later on the subjects and references that interested them and would like to revise again. As a free contribution to this valuable book for those who want to study it seriously and find the numbering system too limited, I am reproducing here a more detailed Table of Content:

Table of Contents (Detailed)
Copyright
Dedication
Introduction

PART I – Understanding Our Psychological Defense Mechanisms
0 Introduction

Chapter 1: The “Me” I Don’t Know
1.1 Introduction
1.2 What is a Psychological Defense Mechanism?
1.3 Defense Mechanisms and Your Personality
1.4 Making Use of the Exercises of this Book
1.5 Exercises
1.6 Now What?
Chapter 2: Our Primary Psychological Concerns
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Theoretical Views on the Primary Psychological Concerns
2.3 EXERCISE
2.3.4 Cluster A
2.3.4.1 Group 1
2.3.4.2 Group2
2.3.5 Cluster B
2.3.5.1 Group 3
2.3.5.2 Group 4
2.3.6 Cluster C
2.3.6.1 Group 5
2.3.6.2 Group 6
2.4 Now What?
Chapter 3: The Emotional Landscape
3.1 Introduction
3.2 “All I Want is to be Happy”
3.3 Aristotle’s List of Emotions
3.4 Fear, Anger and Hatred
3.5 Calmness and Confidence
3.6 Shame
3.7 Envy and Jealousy
3.8 Love, Gratitude and the Ability to Empathize
3.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
As a practicing psychoanalyst, I found that this book tackles complex matters of the human condition and the workings of our minds in a highly sensitive and forthright way. It's pages are full of clear and detailed understanding of the many extraordinarily human ways we undermine our own emotional growth and instead adhere to self-deceptions. Here Dr. Burgo brings much compassion as well as a gentle but firm nudge to take any new self-understandings gleamed while reading, and with his helpful and probing questions and exercises, to actually develop in new ways. The candor and wisdom found in this well crafted and jargon free book will be an immensely useful tool for growth as an adjunct to those already in psychotherapy or for those who can not access or afford quality treatment.
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Format: Paperback
Even though I've been in psychodynamic psychotherapy and thought I understood about defenses, I find this book extremely helpful. The way Dr. Burgo explains the defenses is clear, and not full of jargon. His examples from life or from movies or TV are so recognizable that it really helps me remember "Hey, something's probably going on here," when I hit certain situations or interactions in my life. The other thing that seems so important in what he says is that defenses are against pain. May seem obvious, but often when I realize I'm doing something defensive, I end up feeling like I'm "bad," or like I should be "over it" already. The reminder in this book that it's about pain, and the fear that the pain might not be bearable, helps me be kinder to myself, have more self respect for my efforts, and keep trying. Also, the discussion about shame and early life damage really hits home and describes ways I've felt but not understood before."
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Format: Paperback
This book is mostly about the defense mechanisms and how they can lead you to having a less than enjoyable life. (They aren't seen as entirely negative - more that overusing them has bad consequences).

Something not obvious from the Contents page is that the impact of the defense mechanisms is worked through in terms of each of our primary psychological concerns (which are considered to be bearing with our neediness and dependency, living with strong emotion and developing self esteem).

It provides extensive journalling exercises to explore (and heal where necessary) the impact of the defense mechanisms on our lives. The instructions are clear and the exercises relate clearly to the theory.

The writing is clear and accessible. Concepts are explained and illustrated.

This book provides a clear and thorough way to living a more enjoyable life.

Why not five stars? Perhaps because I'm a bit of a perfectionist. For me to give a book five stars it would need to be bowl-me-over awesome. This book is very good - thorough, clear, systematic and valuable.
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