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"Intimate" Violence against Women3 NBS of Julian DrewA Little PregnantA Natural History of RapeA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA Stir of BonesAbout a BoyAdult Children of Emotionally Immature ParentsAgainst MarriageAgainst MarriageAlmost a PsychopathAlone TogetherAnatomy of LoveAngelsAnother CountryAnxious ParentsApples and OrangesBe Honest--You're Not That Into Him EitherBeing the Other OneBetrayed as BoysBeyond AddictionBipolar DisorderBoys Will Put You on a Pedestal (So They Can Look Up Your Skirt)Breaking ApartBrief Adolescent Therapy Homework PlannerBringing Up ParentsBut I Love HimCaring for a Child with AutismCaring in Remembered WaysCherishmentChildren of the Aging Self-AbsorbedChildren of the Self-AbsorbedChildren, Families, and Health Care Decision MakingClawsCloserCold HitCoping With Difficult PeopleCouple SkillsCruddyDancing in My NuddypantsDivorce PoisonDoing ItDone With The CryingEcstasyEmotional ClaustrophobiaEmotional Fitness for IntimacyEmotional Intelligence at WorkEntwined LivesErotic PassionsEssentials of Premarital CounselingEvery Pot Has a CoverFacts About ADHD ChildrenFamilies Like MineFamilyFamily BoundFamily FirstFear of IntimacyFinal JeopardyFind MeFlashpointFor Lesbian ParentsForgive Your Parents, Heal YourselfGandhi's WayGeorgia Under WaterGetting over Getting MadGetting the Love You WantGetting the Love You Want Audio CompanionGirl in the MirrorGirl StuffGoing Home without Going CrazyHandbook of AttachmentHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHappiness Sold SeparatelyHard to GetHe's Just Not That Into YouHealing ConversationsHollow KidsHot ButtonsHot Chocolate for the Mystical LoverHow Families Still MatterHow to Create Chemistry with AnyoneHow to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Handle a Hard-To-Handle KidHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tI am Not Sick I Don't Need Help!I Don't Know How She Does ItI Hate You-Don't Leave MeI Only Say This Because I Love YouI'm OK, You're My ParentsIn the Mood, AgainInside the American CoupleIntrusive ParentingIt's Called a Breakup Because It's BrokenIt's Love We Don't UnderstandJakarta MissingKeeping Passion AliveKeeping Your Child in MindLet's Get This StraightLiberation's ChildrenLife's WorkLikely to DieLove JunkieLove SickLove Times ThreeLove Works Like ThisLoving Someone With Bipolar DisorderLoving Someone with Borderline Personality DisorderLust in TranslationMaking the RunMaking the RunManic DepressionMars and Venus - Starting Over.Mating in CaptivityMom, Dad, I'm Gay.MotherstylesMurder in the InnMysterious CreaturesNecessary NoiseOdd Girl OutOpenOpening to Love 365 Days a YearOphelia's MomOrgasmsOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the DustOvercoming Your Difficult FamilyParenting and the Child's WorldParenting on the GoParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerParents and Digital TechnologyParents Do Make a DifferencePassionate MarriagePlanet JanetPreventing Misbehavior in ChildrenProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Raising AmericaRaising ElijahRaising Kids in an Age of TerrorRaising Kids in the 21st CenturyRaising Resilient ChildrenRay's a LaughRelationship RescueRelax, It's Just SexRespect-Me RulesRomantic IntelligenceRoom For JSecrets of a Passionate MarriageSelf-NurtureSelfish, Shallow, and Self-AbsorbedSex Addiction: The Partner's PerspectiveShidduch CrisisSickenedSingleSlut!Socrates in LoveSomeone Like YouSong for EloiseSpecial SiblingsSpiritually Healing the Indigo Children (and Adult Indigos, Too!)Staying Connected to Your TeenagerStaying Sane When Your Family Comes to VisitStop Arguing with Your KidsStop SignsStop Walking on EggshellsStop Walking on EggshellsStrong, Smart, & BoldSummer of the SkunksSurviving a Borderline ParentTaking Charge of AngerTelling SecretsThank You for Being Such a PainThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe AwakeningThe Bastard on the Couch CDThe Birth of PleasureThe Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with DiskThe Bully Action GuideThe Burden of SympathyThe Commercialization of Intimate LifeThe CorrectionsThe Couples Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe DisappearanceThe Dream BearerThe Educated ParentThe Emotional RevolutionThe Employee Assistance Treatment PlannerThe EpidemicThe Ethics of ParenthoodThe Ethics of the FamilyThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good DivorceThe Guide for International Intercultural Couples and Families Intercultural MarriageThe Healing Journey for CouplesThe Hostile HospitalThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Introvert AdvantageThe Little FriendThe Love HexagonThe Moral Intelligence of ChildrenThe Neuroscience of Human RelationshipsThe New I DoThe Normal OneThe Nurture AssumptionThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe Other ParentThe Philosophical ParentThe Psychology of Parental ControlThe Real Rules for GirlsThe Reflective ParentThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of WivesThe Spider and the BeeThe State of AffairsThe StepsThe Story of My FatherThe Velveteen FatherThe Virgin BlueThe Visitation HandbookThe Whole ChildTo Have and To Hurt:Two Is EnoughUnderstanding MarriageUnderstanding the Borderline MotherUnhitchedUntrue Up in FlamesWe've Got IssuesWhat about the KidsWhat Goes UpWhat Is Secular Humanism?What It Means to Love YouWhat Our Children Teach UsWhen a Parent is DepressedWhen Mars Women DateWhen Someone You Love Is BipolarWhen Someone You Love Is DepressedWhy Are You So Sad?Will You, Won't You?WomanWorking With Emotional IntelligenceWorried All the TimeYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!
When I first read the title of this book I thought, "Everyone has to relate to this!" The funny thing is, you might not. After all, I never really thought I had issues with my family until my parents became ill, and we siblings had to ban together to help them. At that point in time, I was 35 years old. The reality of family issues was a rude awakening at that age. At the time, I remember wishing that it didn't catch me off guard.
As a family member we each have a position we hold, or a role we play within the group. To your parents, no matter how old you are -- you will always be their baby. To your siblings, you will be something else, probably many different things. As it is well stated on the back cover of this book, "…walking through the door to our parents' home is like stepping back in time. We leave our independent adult lives out on the sidewalk and resume our old roles with all the emotional baggage that goes with them."
Depending upon your performance in your role as a family member, the time you spend with your family can take on the semblance of a comedy, a tragedy, or anything in between. Even if you enjoy being with your family, the fact is, even the best of families fight sometimes. The problem is not that we fight; it's how we fight. Healthy conflict solves problems and allows everyone to move on with dignity. Unhealthy conflict leaves problems unresolved and family members are left to fester, only to have the same monster rear its ugly head at some other gathering.
Hence the author, Andrea Medea has pooled her expertise on the subject of conflict management and applied it to "that small group of blood relations who are best equipped to drive you crazy" (p. 2). Andrea Medea has taught conflict management at the University of Chicago, DePaul, and Northwestern University. In addition, she designs conflict management programs, and gives seminars and lectures to organizations that need a better way to handle conflict. Alone the same line of working with groups, the author has applied her conflict management knowledge and skills to "the family."
The book is designed to show you how to recognize conflicts and offers you choices for how you might solve those conflicts. The author focuses on hidden patterns of conflict and places it along a conflict continuum model that ranges from normal to abnormal. She focuses on behavior, rather than asking you to delve deeply into your past. And, she suggests ways to manage your actions and to get results in the here and now. Hence it is a very practical read, in that, you can use what you learn and get results right away. In fact, it could be used as a workbook if you like - because it has lists, and surveys, and charts for you to catalogue your progress throughout the book.
The book is separated into three basic sections. In the first section, the author introduces you to "your brain under stress" and the concept of "flooding" which is a physical response to stress that she describes as "overdosing on adrenaline." It's the worst-case scenario -- you know, that point when you are so upset that you can't think, can't speak, and can't defend yourself. The author suggests that flooding essentially "shorts out" the brain's ability for language, logic, and problem solving. One danger is that, while flooding people become highly suggestible -- a condition that might be good for them, but not so good for you if you are the one that's drowning.
Given some examples that aim to help you identify various types of flooding in yourself and others, the author presents ideas for controlling, heading off, or neutralizing the response. For example, to prevent flooding in your self, the author introduces you to some basic autogenic, isometric, and deep breathing techniques. She even brings you through an exercise in which you deliberately initiate the response in order to practice controlling it. The idea is teach your body to disconnect the triggers and leave you better able to fend of flooding.
In the second section, the author goes into detail about the difference between healthy and unhealthy conflict. In this, everyday conflict (e.g., miscommunication), which is considered normal, is separated from abnormal conflict (e.g., bigotry). Then, healthy conflict, and unhealthy conflict are looked at in terms of what they each produce. All along the way the author provides practical suggestions, rules and techniques, for how you might move from unhealthy conflict toward healthy conflict. In this section, however, a good deal of explication is given to the workings of what unhealthy conflict is all about. In the end, we consequently take a close look at each kind of conflict along the conflict continuum model.
In the last section, the author discusses pitfalls to avoid. In this, she cites a variety of signals that we are to become aware of, including, "authority," "belligerence," and "submissive" signals (i.e., behaviors). Then, she applies these three behaviors to the roles of "villains," "victims," and "heroes" within the family. And, you know what? It works!
The last chapter "Family Aikido" brings it all together. For those who are not familiar with Aikido, it is a martial art that uses your opponent's momentum to your advantage. In the case of family Aikido, instead of opposing the power of the opponent and trying to stop what can't be stopped, you work with their momentum in an unexpected fashion. The focus here is on the common interests, outcomes, and future you plan to share with your family, and thus, you work with them exactly as they are.
They may never change, but you can. You can, at least change your behavior so their problems don't have a painful effect on you. Here, the author gives you the everyday practical skills to do just that. Beyond its use for self-knowledge and personal development, this book would be a worthy (and light hearted) addition to any recovery group dealing with family issues.
© 2007 Rosemary Cook
Rosemary Cook is a Therapeutic Counselor in private practice living on Long Island, NY.