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The Self-Sabotage Cycle; Why We Repeat Behaviors That Create Hardships and Ruin Relationships

Authors: Stanley Rosner, Ph.D. and Patricia Hermes
Publisher: Praeger Publishers, Westport, CT.  2006

Review by Deepika Rastogi, Ph.D. on Jun 19th 2007
Volume: 11, Number: 25

From the viewpoint of clinical practice, the book is an enlightening account of the dynamics of the repetition compulsion - a tendency to repeat certain forms  of behavior that are compulsive and destructive at the same time. The authors have offered an in-depth analysis of what causes this form of behavior, the various ways in which it manifests itself and finally suggest ways to overcome it.

 The book starts with interesting and day-to-day examples of relatively harmless forms of repetitive behavior arousing the curiosity of the reader. Later, the authors go on to describe the more destructive forms of repetitive behavior and its overpowering nature, which often result in hardships in one's interpersonal relationships at work and home. According to the authors, the urge to indulge in repetitive behavior is so strong that even the hedonistic principle of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain is compromised for the need to repeat. What makes it even more difficult is the fact that this form of behavior is often beyond one's control and the victim is oblivious to its presence in his/her life. The origins of this behavior can usually be traced to some traumatic experience, faced earlier in one's life and which have been repressed over a long period of time. The authors recount several instances from their clinical practice to show how this self defeating behavior can almost always result in the downward spiral of the person if it goes unchecked. Therefore, the authors offer insights into resolving the repetitive cycles of behavior by allowing victims to become aware of its sabotaging nature. They suggest "talking cure", steeped in the psychoanalytic tradition as an effective means to get in touch with the repressed memories that have caused this behavior. By doing so, the victims admit these memories as part of one's life experiences and are encouraged to move on with life without any emotional baggage from the past.

 Although the book has some technical jargon relating to psychotherapy, the authors make their meanings clear by quoting cases from their clinical practice. Overall, the book is an interesting read and will largely appeal to people inclined towards psychology.

© 2007 Deepika Rastogi


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