cover image The Child in You: The Breakthrough Method for Bringing Out Your Authentic Self

The Child in You: The Breakthrough Method for Bringing Out Your Authentic Self

Stefanie Stahl, trans. from the German by Elisabeth Lauffer. Penguin Life, $17 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-14-313593-7

German clinical psychologist Stahl (Yes, No, Maybe) uses the metaphor of the inner child to help readers work through formative childhood experiences in this compassionate work. She proposes that the inner child is an unconscious part of one’s personality defined in childhood, which is split between the “shadow child” (feelings of helplessness that inspire defense mechanisms and self-protection) and the “sun child,” (feelings of love and protection that inspire self-esteem) and is often in conflict with one’s “inner adult,” or “our rational and reasonable mind.” As people try to secure the four basic psychological needs of connection, autonomy, pleasure, and avoidance of displeasure, Stahl posits, the shadow child’s negative beliefs lead to self-protection strategies that result in perfectionism, overadjustment, conflict avoidance, and other negative habits. To heal the shadow child, Stahl recommends reinforcing one’s sun child and inner adult through self-reflection, rational analysis, and speaking to oneself as the shadow child. Stahl argues that one is “100 percent responsible” for one’s own happiness, and that happiness must be attained through dismantling negative self-defense mechanisms and cultivating one’s ability to live in the moment. Readers of psychology or self-help will be enlightened by this straightforward, intuitive, and sensitive investigation. (Jan.)