Think Like a Shrink: 100 Principles for Seeing Deeply into Yourself and Others


A Companion for the Uncouched

Based on a highly regarded article in Psychology Today that has been reprinted worldwide, Think Like a Shrink is a personality primer that refines years of psychiatric training into 100 principles. Here you will quickly learn to understand what motivates your boss, your spouse, your parents -- and yourself. Incorporating the most basic fundamentals that drive the human personality, these principles are short, clear, and simple, but not simplistic. ...

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Think Like a Shrink: 100 Principles for Seeing Deeply into Yourself and Others

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A Companion for the Uncouched

Based on a highly regarded article in Psychology Today that has been reprinted worldwide, Think Like a Shrink is a personality primer that refines years of psychiatric training into 100 principles. Here you will quickly learn to understand what motivates your boss, your spouse, your parents -- and yourself. Incorporating the most basic fundamentals that drive the human personality, these principles are short, clear, and simple, but not simplistic. They include enlightening observations and real eye-openers, such as:

• Some people never forgive a favor.

• In any marriage, there can only be one number one.

• Too much love may mean hate; too much hate may mean love.

• Successful neuroses help people fail.

• Electra and Oedipus keep psychiatrists in business.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Theodore I. Rubin, M.D. author of Compassion and Self-Hate Always interesting, practical, and accessible, these insights are delivered in plain English.

Constance Dalenberg, Ph.D. Director, Trauma Research Institute, and author of Countertransference and the Treatment of Trauma In this honest and refreshing volume, Dr. Rosen offers the reader a series of catalysts to self-understanding and self-acceptance. A unique contribution to the field.

Calvin A. Colarusso, M.D. Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of California at San Diego Dr. Rosen has distilled the essence of clinical psychiatry and developmental theory in this most outstanding book....Of great value to those who wish to better understand themselves and those they love.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684866031
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 5/8/2001
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 0.55 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Emanuel H. Rosen, M.D., a graduate of City College of New York's six-year B.S./M.D. program and The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, completed his internship at Duke University Medical Center and residency at the Menninger Foundation. He practices psychiatry in La Jolla, California.

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Read an Excerpt

From Part One: The Big Picture

A Human Is a Human Is a Human

Bill Gates and an Aborigine have a lot in common. They may not hanker after the same clothes, but we can be sure that their primal desires are identical. They both want sustenance. They both want sexual gratification. They both want security. They both want respect. And they both want love.

So what if one may flaunt khakis and the other a loincloth? Irrelevant, a mere expression of cultural bias. Social mores, spiritual beliefs, and priorities vary from culture to culture, and even within the same countries, depending on upbringing and peer expectation. Even in our melting pot of a country, we see great differences in expression and lifestyle between people of different backgrounds and generations.

Nonetheless, distilled down, these discrepancies are but different expressions of the same primal tendencies, hard wired into our genes for the grander purpose of survival, and bearing greatly on our emotional health. You may believe that your son, your daughter, your father, your employer, and so forth are nothing like you. But look deeper. You'll see that though the methods may be different, the needs are the same. Recognizing common needs is a first step toward cultivating more tolerant attitudes about differences, and happily, in terms of therapy, this commonality broadens human understanding.

Fantasies Rule

As often as we are all admonished to get a grip on reality, the echo of desire irrepressibly jars, shaking the foundation right out from under real life. And why not? Reality is so much more difficult to control than a confection over which we, and we alone, have total creative tyranny. Fantasy makes a great retreat, or if not "great," at least familiar.

Everyone has fantasies. These can be trivial or all-encompassing. Either way, the greater the distance between the fantasy and the reality, the more arduous the psychological task. A shrink or loved one can only help a deluded patient accept reality mentally. However, no one, no how, can excise the emotional longing that fuels and will continue to fuel escapist tendencies. The most skillful therapists help to narrow the chasm between the perceived want and achievable goals, and often it is the former that needs the most attention.

All fantasies have a source. With encouragement, daytrippers will sometimes reveal the associations they make with their fantasies. A man who would take six women to bed at once might want to feel more manly. Or the woman whose desire is a 10,000-square-foot chateau complete with turrets may have an exaggerated need for security. Find out why they evoke those fantasies and you'll be learning what makes them tick.

Fantasies can be so vivid that if an event shatters one, it can precipitate an emotional crisis, even if the individual is unaware or only dimly aware of its existence. In the case of a fear-based fantasy, for example, a person might get severely depressed on entering law school or on getting married before their older sibling if he or she has the unconscious fantasy that besting the sibling will lead to annihilation. But a fantasy meltdown may eventually lead sufferers to grounding their ideas in reality.

Identifying the anxiety at the source of the fantasy — which usually has its origin in childhood — is a first step toward mitigating its influence. Based on a more thorough understanding of why they fantasize, dreamers can design more achievable goals. Small steps, taken incrementally, will lead them to more satisfying lives. They may even reach to achieve their pie in the sky, instead of just thinking about it.

The Unconscious Mind Is a Constant, Invisible Influence

It's not that there is no free will. But there is too often unrecognized forces guiding our reactions, both inconsequential and life-altering.

I once argued with my late psychiatrist father, "The very word unconscious suggests that we are unaware of it, and therefore it does not matter."

He replied simply, "Some are more unaware of it than others."

It is just this lack of awareness that makes us emotionally stupid.

As actors and actresses in our own private play, only infrequently do we recognize that our unconscious is subtly yanking the strings. We do this, we do that, all the while imagining that we are just acting spontaneously to what life serves up. The more neurotic we are, the less awareness we have of what the script actually says, of how much of our circumstances are due to our unconscious. Without awareness, we get stuck in patterns that become painfully familiar, but that we nevertheless repeat over and again.

Eventually, the unconscious seems to raise its own alert in the form of emotional suffering. Frequent overblown reactions are a sign. Repeated painful outcomes that run against conscious intent are another. The unconscious is trying to become more conscious!

By profession, shrinks commit to the healing power of "increased awareness," but it is slow going. Anyone's insight regarding his or her unconscious only begins the therapeutic process. It is like acquiring a brand-new sense in tiny increments. Imagine the fog of unawareness thinning slightly. The freshly conscious person sees the dim outline of an unknown shape (which is actually their own thought process). Just then the fog thickens again, and not until it clears for a second time will the glimmer reoccur. And so forth.

Even more difficult and requiring months and sometimes years of practice is the glacial "working through" phase that will make hitherto unconscious patterns conscious, then gradually transform choices into more nourishing ones.

Copyright © 2001 by Emanuel H. Rosen, M.D.

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Table of Contents




A Human Is a Human Is a Human

Fantasies Rule

The Unconscious Mind Is a Constant, Invisible Influence

Sociopathy Is Common

You Can't Choose Your Feelings

In Order to Comprehend More Clearly, Stand Back


Our Families Are Always with Us, Forever...

...And What We Know of Intimacy, We Learned from Mom and Dad

Much of Self-Esteem Comes from Mothers' Nurturing

Those Who Don't Remember Their Childhood May Want to Forget It

The Ills of the Fathers, or Mothers, Really Are Visited upon the Children

Boundaries Define People the Way Borders Define Countries

Successful Neuroses Help People Fail


The Way People Feel About Sex Is Critical to Their Psychology

Whenever Two People of the Same Sex Are in a Room, There Is Always Homosexual Tension, Even If They Are Not Aware of It

Yes, Children Do Want to be Sexual with Their Opposite-Sex Parents...

...And Electra and Oedipus Keep Psychiatrists in Business

Women Do Not Suffer from Penis Envy Nearly As Much As Men Do

Women May Feel That Physical Attractiveness Is a Passage to Security and Fulfillment

Sometimes Sex Can Be Used as a Form of Repayment

Genital Potency Does Not Equal Sexual Potency


Intimate Relationships Are the Only Real Measuring Stick for Emotional Health

We Cannot Help Transferring Relationship Patterns

Aggressive Men Often Cower Around Their Wives and Girlfriends

Needy People Immediately Create Chaos in Relationships

Criticism Destroys Relationships

Shallow People Rebound Quickly, Too Quickly

Women Who Angle for Male Attention May Never Have Hooked Maternal Affection...

...And Don Juan Had an Absent Father

Men Misunderstand Female Friendships Because They Aren't Women

Most Women Really Do Want a Man to Protect and Take Care of Them

Too Much Love May Mean Hate; Too Much Hate May Mean Love

Total Isolation Is Never Healthy and Adaptive


History Repeats Itself, Over and Over and Over...

...But You Can Learn to Help Yourself — Sometimes

You Can Use Your Cortex to Master Your Limbic System

Neutrality, Though Often Desired, Is Difficult to Achieve

A Goal-Directed Focus Can Lead to Poor Results

It Is the Experience That Heals, Not Just the Insight...

...Therefore, Intimate Relationships Are Great Therapy


Marriage Is to "Living Together" As Apples Are to Oranges

Marriage Is Not a Happy Ending; It Is Only the Beginning...

...And It Is Easier to Say What Marriage Is Not Than What It Is

There Can Only Be One "Number One" in a Marriage

dYou Can't Change Your Spouse

Couples Tend to Socialize with Couples and Singles with Singles

Parenthood Is Not for Everyone

An Extramarital Affair Is Itself Less Important Than What Led to It...

...And Also Less Important Than What Comes After It

Kids Keep Marriages Together

Divorce Doesn't Solve Everything and Usually Introduces New Challenges


Actions Speak Louder Than Words

If You Really Want to Relate, Let People Free Associate

Asking Is More Effective Than Telling

Beware Unsolicited Denials

Defense Mechanisms May Be Inauthentic

What People Say Is Sometimes Less Important Than Why They Are Saying It...

...For Instance, We Can Tell a Lot About People by the Way They Say Goodbye


The Best Defense Is a Good Offense

Once-Traumatized People May Develop a Stubborn Need to Control

Emotions Are Harmless; It Is Behavior That Can Harm

Charmers Can Be Manipulative

The Hardest Workers Often Have the Lowest Self-Esteem

Control Freaks Secretly Fear Being Out of Control

"People Who Need People" May Be Troubled

What Is on the Outside Is Often the Exact Opposite of What Is on the Inside


Some People Love to Suffer

Some People Never Forgive a Favor

Don't Swim with Sharks, Except in Very Big Pools...

...Because Vain People Marry Accessories...

...And the Exploitable Often Cling to the Exploiters

Excessive Competition Does Not a Good Bedfellow Make

Those Who Can't Get Comfortable in Their Own Skin May Claw at Others...

...So Give Paranoids a Wide Berth

The Dog-Eat-Dog World Cultivates Paranoia


Grown-ups Don't Stop Growing...

...But You Can Get Stuck Anywhere, Any Time

Destablized Security Exposes People's Psychological Well-Being

As We Age, No One Escapes the Consequences of Uncompleted Work...

...Therefore, the Most Important Element of Midlife Transition Is Honesty

Men Throw Reason Out the Window During a Midlife Crisis (That's Why It's Called a Crisis)

Being a Grandparent May Be Life's Greatest Pleasure

People Who Deal Well with Life, Deal Well with Death


Parenthood Is Life's Most Rewarding Classroom

Supermom Is As Real As Superman

Good Parenting Is Founded on Consistency

If You Drag Your Children Back to Eden, Forbidden Fruit Will Be a Bumper Crop

The Children of Overprotective Parents Become Underprotected Adults

Don't Be Adolescent in Dealing with Adolescents

Kids Need Both Parents

Mothers' Primal Bond Is, First and Foremost, to Their Children

In a Divorce, Children Often Lose

Mental Health Problems Can Suddenly Surface During Adolescence

There Is Passion in Family Life


Hopelessness Is Emotional Cyanide

Nurture Cannot Always Overcome Nature

Depression Is the Common Cold of Psychiatry

A Depressed Degenerate Is in Better Shape Than One Who Is Not

Castration Anxiety Is Real

People Regress to Earlier Behaviors Under Stress

To Succeed, Confront Your Fears

People Who Fall Apart over Trivial Matters May Need Help

The Best Treatment for Anxiety Is Involvement

People Who Are Addicted to Watching Violence Are Often Suppressing Plenty of It

Doing Nothing Can Be Very Pushy

Behind Many Spoken Fears Lurk Unconscious Wishes

Those Who Bully May Have Been Previously Victimized

Bad People Act, Whereas Good People Only Fantasize


Most of What Drives Us Is Very Well Hidden

Buzzwords Never Cured Anyone

If Therapy Isn't Helping, Get a New Therapist's Input

People Can Overdo Shrink-Think

Acceptance Is a Critical Step Toward Emotional Health



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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2001

    A Primer for the Armchair Therapist

    This slim volume is an easy to read introduction to the basic principles that govern our behavior patterms. Written in a light and relaxed style, it offers some revealing insights into human behavior and suggests ways of avoiding head-on collisions in some of our most important relationships. It deserves a permanent place in the home library.

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