Invisible Masters: Compulsions and the Fear That Drives Them

George Weinberg, Author Grove/Atlantic $23 (385p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1472-3
Manhattan psychotherapist Weinberg ( The Taboo Scarf ) examines the purpose and function of compulsive behaviors--ritually repeated, severely limiting activities--in five extended case histories from his practice. He observes that compulsions ``are always motivated by fear'' and have a ``special cover-up function'' that deflects the compulsive's attention from ``some horrifying idea.'' An individual's compulsions develop ``in a process that is akin to dreams,'' he adds. In his examples, a young boarding school teacher who is compelled to start his day shooting basketballs learns to face his erotic feelings toward his students; a woman whose family disregarded the abuse she endured as a child understands that shoplifting was how she confirmed her belief in the world's indifference. Using a broad definition of compulsion that covers many repetitive, undesired behaviors, Weinberg offers concrete suggestions for determining the nature of the fear that gives rise to the unwanted activity and steps for loosening its grip on one. Neither reductive nor simplistic, his views offer encouragement and hope to similarly afflicted readers. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/29/1993
Release date: 12/01/1993
Genre: Nonfiction
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