Ordinary Grace: An Examination of the Roots of Compassion, Altruism and Empathy and the Ordinary Individuals Who Help Others in Extrao

Kathleen A. Brehony, Author
Kathleen A. Brehony, Author Riverhead Books $24.95 (242p) ISBN 978-1-57322-108-5
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Paperback - 242 pages - 978-1-57322-786-5
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In an attempt to discover what motivates and inspires altruism in some people, Jungian-oriented clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Brehony (Awakening at Midlife) offers examples of human graciousness in matters large and small. She tells of organ donation between casual acquaintances, of organizations started by those in grief that now help thousands struggling with similar losses, of individuals who have devoted their lives to bringing aid to others. Unfortunately, no matter how heartwarming, her finding that people can choose to act helpfully and generously rather than according to their less benevolent instincts seems too simplistic: ""Each of us has the power to determine what he or she chooses to tune in to."" Brehony briefly discusses the Jungian concept of our shadow side, the dark opposite of our daily, public persona. In her view, finding grace in our own lives is possible by becoming aware of the presence of our shadow side and opening ourselves to others. Readers seeking reassurance that people can be good as easily as not will find inspiration in these personal stories; they may even be motivated to their own good deeds by Brehony's ""strategies"" for grace at the close of the book (""Be prepared for pain as well as joy,"" ""Simplify and scale down""). Agent, Lisa Ross. (Mar.)
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