Clinical psychologist Oliver James demonstrates that who we are is largely the result of the way we were cared for during our first six years, rather than our genes and other environmental factors. The particular way we were treated in these earliest months and years explains why siblings can be so different. They may have been raised in the same family, but their mother and father related so differently to each of them that they might as well had a different parents. nThese early experiences affect our choices of friends and lovers, define our interests and professional drives, make us more or less prone to mental illness. James illustrates a vast body of startling new scientific evidence with detailed clinical case histories and those of prominent interviewees as diverse as Jeffrey Archer and Stephen Fry, along with revealing psychobiographies of the likes of Woody Allen, Mia Farrow and Prince Charles. Each chapter also includes a straightforward questionnaire that allows you to complete an 'emotional audit' so that you can be more aware of your role in the family script. n"They F**k You Up" is a vital, challenging book offering compelling insights into how childhood experience provides the key to personality.
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publisher and industry reviews
UK Kirkus review
Have you ever wished you could put yourself on the psychiatrist's couch for a few sessions? Take a closer look at the 'real' you? Oliver James provides just such an opportunity in a book that doesn't involve filling in pages of psychological tests but instead asks you to answer a few simple questions about your childhood and think hard about it. Author of the acclaimed Britain On The Couch, James here extends his original thesis that circumstances and upbringing rather than genes are paramount in influencing the way we live. Taking issue with the 'tyranny of geneticism', he claims that genes play very little role in how we perceive others and have virtually no effect on how we relate to other people. Freud was on the right track inasmuch as childhood scripts govern the way we deal with our adult present. We continue to re-create childhood experiences in our daily routines because certain personal characteristics have been laid down early as patterns of electro-chemistry in the brain. We base our impressions of how others regard us entirely on our childhood relationships within the family. By thinking about these relationships you can carry out an 'emotional audit' and discover exactly why you respond to people in the way that you do. The earlier these patterns are established the harder it is to change, but James argues that there is much that can be done when we understand why we respond or act in the ways that we do. He focuses on four main aspects: family role, conscience, attachment pattern and sense of self. Conscience is formed by the way we were treated between ages of three and six. Our pattern of attachment (how we will be treated by others) is formed from birth to three years and our 'sense of self' is, amazingly, determined by the type of care we received in the first six months. Gender and birth order also strongly influence the roles that we play in the family. The author uses the lives of celebrities as examples. Prince Charles wasn't born with innate shyness and lack of confidence - it derived from the way he was raised. Elton John, treated for depression and addiction, was petrified of his father and has subsequently used success to bolster his self-esteem. The cruel parental regime of Michael Jackson resulted in his becoming an exceptional achiever. Other well-known personalities whose childhoods are laid bare include Paula Yates, Woody Allen and Jeffrey Archer. To complete the 'emotional audit' that you put together as you progress through the book, the author suggests that you attempt to write a story incorporating your findings. This isn't something that can be accomplished in an afternoon but it's certainly a fascinating exercise with potentially life-changing effects. (Kirkus UK)
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