If you have reached a point in your life when you just want to know more about how the mind works and possibly find some answers to questions about relationships, dealing with problems and finding possible ways to solve them, this might be a good first step in that direction. Written by a psychiatrist in 1978, the book manages to combine a series of real life cases with interesting insights into how people deal with (or manage to avoid) different issues, and plain matter of fact explanations about what triggers the emotional component of our actions.
The book is divided into 4 major sections: Discipline, Love, Growth and Religion, Grace. From the subject of responsibility, problem solving and depression, to the somewhat scientific explanation of the concept of Love, through the issue of religion but not necessarily in the ‘church-going way’, and the power of our unconscious, the book manages to bring structure and a sense of order to the everyday situations and life challenges, while at the same time pointing out ways to attain ‘mental health’.
It is a long, difficult and painful journey which many of us are afraid of, but one which we have to take, every day, every moment, one we may feel like giving up from time to time and one which only ends in the moment of our death: the journey of knowing ourselves, of going through experiences, of suffering and joy, of constant change and adjustment. Life is difficult – that is how the book starts, but that doesn’t have to be taken as a negative thing but more like a challenge. Just like a traveler would pack his bag, put on his walking shoes and start on his journey, so we must do, and if our supplies run out, our shoes get worn and we stop for breaks along the way, we must strive forward, replenishing our resources, getting new shoes and keep going on this road less traveled of our own personal fulfillment.
This is one of those rare books that deserves a second (maybe a third and a fourth) reading.
*Read in July 2011