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No Enemies WithinReview - No Enemies Within
A Creative Process for Discovering What’s Right About What’s Wrong
by Dawna Markova, Ph.D.
Conari Press, 1994
Review by Margo McPhillips
Sep 30th 1999 (Volume 3, Issue 39)

What if you open your mouth to sing to the demons and all that comes out is "My Country ‘Tis of Thee?," in the wrong key?

This book is a self-help book with a great creative twist. There are surprising metaphors and little stories throughout that instruct well at the points where one needs instruction and comfort at points where one wishes comfort, whether logically or not. The theme of this book is making friends with one’s problems and using a problem to help resolve it and further one’s personal growth.

It opens with the story of "a great Tibetan poet named Milarepa" and how, returning home after a long journey, he was confronted by a host of demons. Milarepa caused their surprising disappearance, a few at a time, until there was only one, huge demon, "fangs dripping evil, nostrils flaming, opened jaws revealing a dark, foul black throat" into which throat Milarepa thrust his head to better understand the demon. The rest of the book uses the convention of thinking of our own problems as demons and recalls the wisdom of Milarepa in making friends with and trying to understand his story demons. This reminded me of the well-known dream adage about confronting one’s monsters so they’ll stop harassing one since running from them just makes them give chase. Markova uses this book to explain how to do that with one’s real problems, both past and present.

On the whole, No Enemies Within is pleasant and easy to read but has too many annoying, somewhat unrelated quotes on every page, in its generous margins. The quotes were more distracting than helpful to me. I kept hoping there would be "good", memorable ones but those were few and far between.

Markova does much self-revelation and a couple of times her intense, "heavy" background was too startling a contrast to the lightness of the book. I would be thinking of demon as metaphor, as in "The Three Billy Goats Gruff", suddenly she would reveal a very real life-story demon such as her childhood sexual abuse, and that made me quite anxious. Though I had no childhood sexual abuse in my own history, I became a bit resentful and less than trusting when the general lightness of the book’s style returned; it felt a little bit like a nasty trick had been played on the reader.

I would recommend this book to just about anyone but I wish there had been a discussion up front about not taking the book and its subject lightly, despite the style of the writing. One should really want to read and work with this book rather than just reading it because it looks interesting.


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