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Resource List 8

A COLLECTION OF RECENT ENGLISH-LANGUAGE PSYCHOTHERAPY BOOK REVIEWS

Compiled under the direction of Jacqueline A. Carleton Ph.D. (and her interns) for the IJP (Dec, 2016).


DeYoung, P. (2015). Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame: A Relational / Neurobiological Approach.

Clippinger, D. (2016). Cultivating Qi.


DeYoung, P. (2015). Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame: A Relational/Neurobiological Approach.
Reviewed by Janay Anderson, Columbia University

Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame by Dr. Patricia DeYoung is filled with a deep analysis of shame, how it operates, and how the psychotherapist/patient relationship can be the primary relationship that heals shame.  As a reader, my relationship with Dr. DeYoung begins with the tone she sets for the book.  She is not shy to reveal that she has done a lot of reading and curating of other people's ideas to get to her own nuanced understanding of shame: "I noticed Louis Cozolino's recasting of psychotherapy as neuroscience that heals the social brain." (36) She listens to others and makes discoveries: "But it was not until I listened to Allan Schore's impassioned argument for 'right-brain psychotherapy' that the brain-science penny dropped for me." She's letting the reader into her mind so that we can actually see her. She does not erase her voice from the analysis of shame.  If she did that, that would go against many of her own precepts.  She even employs phrases that seem to deliberately show her vulnerability:  “For the sake of example, let’s say that we have injured a client.  And let’s put this uncomfortable story in the first person; I’ll wear the guilt for the sake of the learning.” (168) That is the participatory nature of her book: we get to see her developing in her clinical relationships while also learning to understand shame.
        DeYoung defines shame as “an experience of one’s felt sense of self disintegrating in relation to a dysregulating other” (xiii).   A “dysregulating other” comes from affect regulation theory: a person who doesn’t provide emotional connection, responsiveness, and understanding to someone who desires connection to them.  A dysregulating other can be our first relationships with caregivers.  If our caregivers continued to dysregulate or not provide for our emotional and physical needs, before long this pre-verbal shame could become chronic.  “Shame starts as a simple right-brain to right-brain dysregulating event, but as those events, unrepaired, cluster in memory and wire up consistently with other neural events, shame becomes a chronic relational emotion shaped and colored by the relational contexts in which it came to be.” (42)  In this highly technical definition of shame, she also reveals her therapeutic technique for treating shame: building authentic relationships.  Authentic relationships are  “sharing emotion within ‘I-see-you-seeing-me’ intersubjective space: I will tell you what I feel because we each hear and care about how the other feels” (166).   If a patient is really dealing with chronic shame, he might not have any authentic relationships.  That’s where the therapist comes in.  The therapist can be a patient’s first authentic connection and he can learn how to allow himself to be seen. 
       She describes a more common experience of shame to further ground it in reality.  Shame-prone patients move between the binary of being nothing.
       In the words of one of her client examples: "I'm not that one special person to anyone on the planet." (11). However, there is a Catch-22 deep inside of shame which is that someone who suffers from shame wants deeply to be loved but thinks they are unlovable.  If they seek out relationships, it’s usually in a way that conceals who they really are from the other person.  A shame-prone patient might be afraid that sharing one’s real emotions in relationship will lead to the end of the relationship and as a result, they lack authentic connections.  Yet, connection is what heals this conundrum.
        There are some things that are counterintuitive on the surface about some patients that could preclude a therapist from believing they might be dealing with chronic shame:  “I suspect that chronic shame is a problem when our sessions feel like excellent performances of client and I feel like a spectator...meanwhile I feel little connection between our emotional selves, our right brains.” (60) She unveils the shame-based behaviors that clients can perform in therapy: “A client who turns every conversation into an interesting discussion or a lively debate keeps the therapy connection in territory where she can feel like an excellent conversation partner, a person others enjoy. We wonder whether sharing emotion would make her feel incompetent, or maybe even disgusting” (91).  She calls these self-protections and advises a therapist to try breaking through these protections by trying to emphatically connect with the client and remain interested in what is being said behind their words: “repairing the empathic connection will bring the client back into cohesion” (119).   New memories, new experiences in the therapy room release this shame protection. 
        She does not promise that shame can be healed because she writes that only shame resilience is possible.  It’s not possible to cure chronic shame because  “long-term relational trauma leaves our psyches indelibly marked.” (162) Shame resilience means that we don’t eliminate our shame but we transform our relationship to it.  Having a “sustained connection with at least one other person who is close enough to become someone who can regulate--rather than dysregulate--their right brain-brain affective experience” (87) is what needs to be built into a client’s life in order to maintain a healthy relationship to shame.  She also provides three habits of becoming less shame-prone by building a deeper relationship with oneself.   It is important to cultivate self-compassion, mindfulness, and self-expression.
        The main critique for this short shame primer is whether or not her right-brain, left-brain language comes off as pseudoscience. The left brain/right brain split is a useful metaphor but it’s not accurate;  neural networks connect across the corpus callosum more often than not.  She relies upon affect regulation therapy (AFT) as a concrete therapy based in neuroscience research and employs “right brain therapy” throughout her book.  Nevertheless, she uses metaphor in a way that could be quite useful in therapy: “When we intuit that clients are torn between new trust and old expectations…[invite] their left-brain thought processes to step in to make the emergency safer.  Sometimes our clients’ rational self can help their right brain to stay engaged in spite of fear, and to make space, with conscious awareness, for new relational experiences even while the old feelings are strong.” (97)

DeYoung, P. (2015). Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame: A Relational/Neurobiological Approach.
New York, New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-138-83120-9
Available as Hardcover & eBook
Paperback: 190 Pages.
References and Index included. 



Clippinger, D. (2016). Cultivating Qi

Reviewed by Kevin Jeffrey Goldwater, New York University


Highlighting the venerable nature of Qi and its siblings, David W. Clippinger expands and modernizes classic traditions. While focusing on Qi as the main subject, Clippinger discusses it in relation to Taoism, Buddhism, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He aims to ‘demystify’ the thoughts, philosophies and practices surrounding Qi, and in doing so Clippinger weaves together several themes of traditional East Asian spirituality and energetics to create a cohesive, educating and calming work. 

The whole book is about Qi and its chapters serve as differentiating aspects regarding it. The first chapter discusses the base nature and fundamentals of Qi and what it is, explaining how it can be used to create a life of value The second chapter proceeds to interchange these two themes, highlighting then how Qi is used within different spiritual and energetic principles discussed, and the remaining chapters then use these principles to explore and guide in practice, training, thought and instruction. Focusing on the interaction and synthetization of mind, body, spirit, breath and indeed Qi, these aspects are found throughout the entire book. Complete with a number of bulleted lists, supplemental figures and an abundance of quotes, the book serves as a field guide to practicing Qi and it’s sibling methodologies.

The book has open arms to anyone who would like to learn more about Qi and the effect it can have on an individual’s life. It does not require a background in East Asian medicine or psychology, however a reader would benefit from being a little familiar with East Asian culture and basic academic processes. Clippinger easily explains theories and practices to his reader, with smooth transitions to allow full immersion. Admist this, however, Clippinger seems to assume his reader is a bit familiar with some of his references; he only supplements some new names and theories quickly mentioned with a parenthesized, explanatory sentence. These sentences help Clippinger explain his thoughts, but even with some of them mentioned before or later in the book, the seemingly random supplementations subtract and distract from the material present. That aside, Clippinger’s instructions for literal movement are easy to follow and make up for the distracting tangents within historical explanation.

Clippinger ends his introduction relating that Lao Tz said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” He wishes his book to be a companion and guide for the journey he outlines as the use and integration of Qi into every day life. While the contextualizing presented for his techniques can become a bit fuzzy and distracted, Clippinger’s book finds its value in the easy instruction of the techniques. The book can allow psychotherapists everywhere to understand the role of body, mind, and spirit in practice and indeed Qi and it’s sibling practices, which can only benefit the patient and the road of healing they are walking down.

 

Clippinger, D. (2016). Cultivating Qi.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Singing Dragon.

978-1-84819-291-1.

Available in hardcover, paperback and eBook.

Paperback. 205 pages. Includes references and end notes.