Sunday, January 15, 2017

#1 [2017/CBR9] "F*ck Feelings" by Michael I. Bennett, MD and Sarah Bennett

F*ck Feelings (2015) by Michael I. Bennett, MD and his comedy writer daughter Sarah Bennett was probably recommended for me on Amazon at some time. The gist of this book is that many people go to therapy looking for miraculous solutions that simply aren't going to happen. F*ck Feelings argues that  there is a more realistic and practical way of dealing with what life throws at you, from addiction to depression to dealing with asshole co-workers and asshole children.

Michael Bennett is a psychiatrist and seems to have a large amount of experience and knowledge. On the whole, though, this book didn't quite work for me. Although it made some interesting and helpful points, I didn't get as much out of it as I was hoping. The authors hit many different topics with a relatively broad brush. Much of it was repetitive, and I often wished for more details.

The book is separated into chapters, including, fuck: self-improvement, self-esteem, fairness, helpfulness, serenity, love, communication, parenthood, assholes, and treatment. The overriding theme of this book is the both depressing and heartening idea that many of the things we struggle with cannot be changed. Someone battling depression and anxiety will probably never fully rid themselves of it. That person will always have to work harder to have a "normal" life. Instead of feeling like a failure for not curing themselves, they should accept that this is who they are and focus on how to best live with it. Then they can feel pride for effectively dealing with this daily struggle. Sometimes waking up in the morning, getting to work, and not being assholes to your family requires a giant mountain of effort and should be acknowledged.

Each chapter is broken up into a five or six page subject, all in the same format. A short discussion of what people struggle with and what changes they would make in a perfect world. Then the authors make some more realistic prognostications. They use three (always three) hypothetical paragraphs of a personal story illustrating the issue. The chapter always ends with a bulleted list of "what you want to happen" in these situations and "what you can realistically expect" in these situations. After these, there is a "script" of what you can say to yourself/friend/enemy/person it may concern in this situation.

I liked some of the discussion and I liked the hypotheticals, but I got very tired of reading the bulleted lists and even more tired of reading the scripts. The lists were simply a retread of what had already been discussed earlier, but in a choppier way that slowed down the reading. The scripts were ridiculously painful to read, and they were my least favorite part of the book.

I liked the general idea that sometimes you just have to let things go. The world isn't fair or just and some people have to struggle much more than others without seeing anything for their efforts. Focus on what you can change and be proud of what you've done to achieve it. On the other hand, the book is too broad and too general to help people specifically. Perhaps it might be useful to look over a specific chapter or sub-chapter that relates to you. It could give you an idea of how to frame your problem and where to start. I'm not sure how useful reading the entire book is, though.

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