BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Eh ...

What a strange book ... Personal Mythology: The Psychology of Your Evolving Self by David Feinstein and Stanley Krippner (both psychology Ph.D.'s) seems to be trying to be several things, and I'm guessing that it doesn't really succeed in any.

This is one that I've had sitting around in the "to be read" boxes for many years ... I probably bought it due to Stanley Krippner (he'd partnered with my teacher Alberto Villoldo decades ago on a book about shamanic healing) being involved. I likely never got around to reading it before now because it seemed to not fit into any "themes" that I was reading ... and this certainly became clear upon getting into it!

I have to admit, however, that I did not use the book ... it is structured around various exercises and "rituals", and none of these had much appeal to me, so I simply read through it ... so it is possible that were I to have immersed myself in it, it might have been more coherent. However, I generally loathe "newagey" lets-get-in-touch-with-our-feelings counseling pablum, and much of this rattles around in that zone, so I had a lot of resistance going to much of the "work" in here!

The book is sub-subtitled "Using Ritual, Dreams, and Imagination to Discover Your Inner Story", and seems to be targeted for a "general" audience, i.e. one that hadn't done a lot of this sort of stuff in other contexts previously. Sadly, there might have been an interesting psychological book in here if they had just stuck to the concept of a "personal mythology" ... which appears to be Feinstein's specialty. Unfortunately, the book tries to be a psych book, a "workshop" manual, a half-assed hypnosis guide, and a grossly watered-down framework of shamanic journeys, all mish-mashed together!

One of the inherent problems with a book like this is that the material tends to be "the weakest dose". For instance, rather than present transformational hypnotic suggestions (each section has an induction that they indicate should either be recorded by the user or having somebody else read it to them), they are namby-pamby ... sure, it means the authors aren't likely to get sued by somebody for using them, but what good do they do? Many of the exercises have clear shamanic roots, but the extent that this is integrated into the book is just having somebody find "their inner shaman" ... passing the buck, as it were, rather than being their inner shaman! Also, the example stories tend towards the "lame" ... one of the subjects they reported on was a professional writer whose "mythology" was obviously largely the production of her craft, while others' varied from the pointless to the petulant.

Again, the psychological bits and pieces here are certainly interesting, but they are so tainted by the kum-ba-yah twaddle of "let's make up some stories so we'll feel better about ourselves" exercises, that it's difficult to address them in a context where they might be useful!

However, if you've never approached shamanism, hypnosis, meditation, occultism, spirituality, etc., etc., etc., this might be the book for you ... it certainly seems to be intended for that level of experience, or for folks who need the excuse of "psychology" (in this case, of "personal mythology") to dare to take the up the reins of their inner self. This turkey's out-of-print, but if you feel your life would not be complete without a copy, they are available from the Amazon new/used vendors for just under a couple of bucks for a "good" copy and just under five bucks for a "very good" copy. Needless to say, I'm not recommending it!

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Tags: book review

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