Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Review of "Emotional Vampires"

The following is my review of the book Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry by Albert J. Bernstein Ph.D. I gave the book 1/5 stars.

Insulting, Ignorant, and Arrogant

The only way I was able to gain insight from this book is by taking it with a grain of salt. I started becoming sceptical of the claims in this book when I read the following statement on page 97:

“Histrionic vampires invented sexual harassment, both doing it and suing for it.”

This is unbelievably offensive to anyone who has ever been sexually harassed, which is considered a form of abuse. This claim is similar to the myth that victims of rape were “asking for it.”

Apart from making such offensive statements, the author also insults various professions. For example, in the chapter on Narcissism, he states on page 146-147:

“To begin with, the process is called ‘creativity’ only when it generates ideas that are useful, convenient, and cost-effective. The rest of the time it’s called ‘being weird’ or ‘having a bad attitude’ ... Creativity means seeing things differently than other people, and it means believing that your vision is better than what’s already there. Nothing could be more insensitive, irreverent, annoying, threatening, and well, Narcissistic.”

To the Albert J. Bernstein, everyone in the creative professions such as artists, inventors, and writers are narcissists. Not only is his definition of creativity full of errors – for example, lots of talented, creative people such as Agatha Christie and Vincent Van Gogh actually think their work isn’t any good – but the Narcissists I’ve known were the LEAST creative people in the world! They spent more time trying to project an image that society would accept and admire judging the quality of things by the standards of society, and criticizing anything unique and creative than actually doing or developing anything creative.

If I had to guess, I would say that this author is either jealous of people in the professions he criticises, or deeply misunderstands them and has no desire to truly understand them, and thus feels the need to “diagnose” them.

Other than the occasional advice on how to respond to “emotional vampires,” I think the best thing about this book is the illustrations – I would like to see more of the artist’s work, but oddly I cannot find the name of the illustrator anywhere in the book. Could this be due to Dr. Albert J. Bernstein’s obvious dislike of creative people?

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