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The Half-Empty Heart
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About the Author

Alan Downs, PH.D., is a clinical psychologist in practice for more than fifteen years. He is the author of five previous books on psychological matters, including Why Does This Keep Happening to Me? He is based in San Francisco.

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Downs, a clinical psychologist and author (Why Does This Keep Happening to Me?), discusses the increasingly common low-grade depression known as dysthymia. Symptoms of this problem include constant disappointment, lack of motivation and feelings of hopelessness. Downs offers many brief case studies of people suffering from dysthymia, as well as descriptions of this condition. For example: "The block we create to emotional flow is best described as emotional dishonesty. Emotional dishonesty ranges from simply hiding our true feelings from others to actively falsifying our feelings in ways that may be more acceptable and less confrontational.... We hide our true feelings from other people when those feelings aren't convenient or might be uncomfortable." Downs does a first-rate job of explaining how "chronic discontent" can develop and how it affects relationships with friends and family. The last part of the book is a five-week program designed to help people change their lives and conquer some of their symptoms. The center of his cure is a series of writing exercises (focusing on keeping a journal of feelings and recollections), and while this may not address everything sufferers may need to know, it is a solid effort to help them get on their way. (Feb.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Clinical psychologist Downs used to suffer from chronic discontent, also known as dysthymia and low-grade depression, whose symptons include lack of motivation, constant disappointment, and irritability. Noting that it is "more than just a bad attitude it is a serious condition that prevents you from experiencing much fulfillment and happiness," he outlines a five-step plan that purports to "cure" it by building emotional honesty. The early life experiences of many affected individuals inadvertently cause a dysfunction in handling emotions, resulting in emotional withdrawal, he says. Although at times presumptuous (e.g., "What you really want are relationships that are emotionally open and honest"), the book skips along energetically and convincingly and effectively uses real-life examples. It will speak loudly to those who have tried in vain to be happy. Recommended. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"It will speak loudly to those who have tried in vain to be happy." --Library Journal

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