Reviewer Dean Cowan:Dean is a freelance Business Consultant, specializing in training and development in more than one sector. He also works as a private writing tutor for youngsters struggling with essays and exams at school. He is married and lives in Manchester UK with his wife of 30 years and has a son, a daughter and one grandson. His particular interests include, education, writing, social sciences and politics.A struggling blogger, he has many on-line at the moment but due to a low boredom threshold losses patience with the technology.Prefers Facebook and Twitter because of the lack of effort needed.
Author: Kevin DavisISBN-13: 978-0-9819343-0-3
Author: Kevin DavisISBN-13: 978-0-9819343-0-3
Kevin Davis' book is very hard to categorize. A self-help book which is not about self-help, a social commentary about human behavior which lacks the specificity to be truly social; the context is narrow, urban, American and probably northern. Its also anthropology without the accepted intellectual and academic rigor one would associate with such a label, but retains its clear and shrewd observance of both social and interpersonal interactions in contemporary North American life.
I say North American because this context it is written in. The idiom is North American and I imagine that it is middle-class American professionals and sophisticates are the main targets for his sometimes very personal ire. Davis apart from being business coach is also a relationship counselor and each of the chapters are written as vignettes of his observations of human behaviour, based on what I imagine is his milieu.
The structure of the book is divided into nine fundamentals of human behavior separated into chapters.
The inquiry Davis embarks on is to ask why seemingly normal people, “all of us” do crazy things. Which on the surface appears like “normal” behaviour which we encounter and act out in various stages of our lives. These fundamentals are as follows:
Fundamental One: Everyone is terrified and Unreliable Until the are not.
A detailed discussion on power games played socially and at work and how fear is a control factor of behavior particularly among leaders.
Fundamental Two: No one wants to succeed to well or fail to badly.
Personal experience of social and professional success and failure and success again.
Fundamental Three: Genuine Interest in Attention to Others is A rare Commodity.
The essential selfishness of interpersonal relationships.
Fundamental Four: Most Relationships and their reoccurring problems ,are based on power dynamics.
More of fundamental three.
Fundamental Five: Everyone is Running toward the same picket fence.
How lack of confidence and anxiety about relationships and success leads to mediocrity and more anxiety, lack of communication, love etc.
Fundamental Six:The Immature Masculine Tries to Run from or Dominate the Feminine.
The Jungian archetype meets the structuralism of Levi-Strauss. How the immature masculine ( exhibited in women as well as men) seeks to dominate and avoid the feeling emotional intuitive feminine aspect of people's personalities.
Fundamental Seven: Everyone Points the Finger.
Judgmental behavior, blame and disliking things or people that you dislike within yourself.
Fundamental Eight: We have Multiple Personalities.
How people assume personalities depending on the situation and how they are expected to behave.
Fundamental Nine: We are all addicted to intensity.
How we all over dramatize and thrive on intense experience making our own crises in order to feel the intensity of a given moment to the point where our behaviours can become self destructive.
The contents of this often very funny and insightful book could be predicted just by reading the old fashioned contents pages with their introductory details to what the chapters are about. In addition the end of the book has a helpful resume of each chapter as discussion points which can be used to analyse ones own behaviours .
Despite its obvious merits I found this an annoying and one sided read, and as with many books of its kind generalised and superficial.
Davis comes across as genuine in his attempts at pedagogy. Pointing out “people's” errors and using his observations to encourage people to look at themselves and ultimately help themselves and change. But in long run I ended up finding the book tiresome and I became indifferent to his concerns. And this is why:
Not everyone is an uptight North American white middle-class isolated abstracted gimp. In fact I don't believe the majority of Americans are either. The book lacks location, social understanding and context. An analysis of perhaps Puerto Rican Americans, Orthodox Jewish Americans, or Afro-Black Americans would be very different . He acknowledges this by using his own Southern upbringing as an example of how Americans could behave differently but again it is one dimensional and we a re left with the stereotype of Southern manners and graciousness However generalisation is more the agenda here and without it there wouldn't be a book.