email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
"Intimate" Violence against Women3 NBS of Julian DrewA Little PregnantA Natural History of RapeA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA Stir of BonesAbout a BoyAdult Children of Emotionally Immature ParentsAgainst MarriageAgainst MarriageAlmost a PsychopathAlone TogetherAnatomy of LoveAngelsAnother CountryAnxious ParentsApples and OrangesBe Honest--You're Not That Into Him EitherBeing the Other OneBetrayed as BoysBeyond AddictionBipolar DisorderBoys Will Put You on a Pedestal (So They Can Look Up Your Skirt)Breaking ApartBrief Adolescent Therapy Homework PlannerBringing Up ParentsBut I Love HimCaring for a Child with AutismCaring in Remembered WaysCherishmentChildren of the Aging Self-AbsorbedChildren of the Self-AbsorbedChildren, Families, and Health Care Decision MakingClawsCloserCold HitCoping With Difficult PeopleCouple SkillsCruddyDancing in My NuddypantsDivorce PoisonDoing ItDone With The CryingEcstasyEmotional ClaustrophobiaEmotional Fitness for IntimacyEmotional Intelligence at WorkEntwined LivesErotic PassionsEssentials of Premarital CounselingEvery Pot Has a CoverFacts About ADHD ChildrenFamilies Like MineFamilyFamily BoundFamily FirstFear of IntimacyFinal JeopardyFind MeFlashpointFor Lesbian ParentsForgive Your Parents, Heal YourselfGandhi's WayGeorgia Under WaterGetting over Getting MadGetting the Love You WantGetting the Love You Want Audio CompanionGirl in the MirrorGirl StuffGoing Home without Going CrazyHandbook of AttachmentHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHappiness Sold SeparatelyHard to GetHe's Just Not That Into YouHealing ConversationsHollow KidsHot ButtonsHot Chocolate for the Mystical LoverHow Families Still MatterHow to Create Chemistry with AnyoneHow to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Handle a Hard-To-Handle KidHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tI am Not Sick I Don't Need Help!I Don't Know How She Does ItI Hate You-Don't Leave MeI Only Say This Because I Love YouI'm OK, You're My ParentsIn the Mood, AgainInside the American CoupleIntrusive ParentingIt's Called a Breakup Because It's BrokenIt's Love We Don't UnderstandJakarta MissingKeeping Passion AliveKeeping Your Child in MindLet's Get This StraightLiberation's ChildrenLife's WorkLikely to DieLove JunkieLove SickLove Times ThreeLove Works Like ThisLoving Someone With Bipolar DisorderLoving Someone with Borderline Personality DisorderLust in TranslationMaking the RunMaking the RunManic DepressionMars and Venus - Starting Over.Mating in CaptivityMom, Dad, I'm Gay.MotherstylesMurder in the InnMysterious CreaturesNecessary NoiseOdd Girl OutOpenOpening to Love 365 Days a YearOphelia's MomOrgasmsOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the DustOvercoming Your Difficult FamilyParenting and the Child's WorldParenting on the GoParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerParents and Digital TechnologyParents Do Make a DifferencePassionate MarriagePlanet JanetPreventing Misbehavior in ChildrenProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Raising AmericaRaising ElijahRaising Kids in an Age of TerrorRaising Kids in the 21st CenturyRaising Resilient ChildrenRay's a LaughRelationship RescueRelax, It's Just SexRespect-Me RulesRomantic IntelligenceRoom For JSecrets of a Passionate MarriageSelf-NurtureSelfish, Shallow, and Self-AbsorbedSex Addiction: The Partner's PerspectiveShidduch CrisisSickenedSingleSlut!Socrates in LoveSomeone Like YouSong for EloiseSpecial SiblingsSpiritually Healing the Indigo Children (and Adult Indigos, Too!)Staying Connected to Your TeenagerStaying Sane When Your Family Comes to VisitStop Arguing with Your KidsStop SignsStop Walking on EggshellsStop Walking on EggshellsStrong, Smart, & BoldSummer of the SkunksSurviving a Borderline ParentTaking Charge of AngerTelling SecretsThank You for Being Such a PainThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe AwakeningThe Bastard on the Couch CDThe Birth of PleasureThe Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with DiskThe Bully Action GuideThe Burden of SympathyThe Commercialization of Intimate LifeThe CorrectionsThe Couples Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe DisappearanceThe Dream BearerThe Educated ParentThe Emotional RevolutionThe Employee Assistance Treatment PlannerThe EpidemicThe Ethics of ParenthoodThe Ethics of the FamilyThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good DivorceThe Guide for International Intercultural Couples and Families Intercultural MarriageThe Healing Journey for CouplesThe Hostile HospitalThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Introvert AdvantageThe Little FriendThe Love HexagonThe Moral Intelligence of ChildrenThe Neuroscience of Human RelationshipsThe New I DoThe Normal OneThe Nurture AssumptionThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe Other ParentThe Philosophical ParentThe Psychology of Parental ControlThe Real Rules for GirlsThe Reflective ParentThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of WivesThe Spider and the BeeThe State of AffairsThe StepsThe Story of My FatherThe Velveteen FatherThe Virgin BlueThe Visitation HandbookThe Whole ChildTo Have and To Hurt:Two Is EnoughUnderstanding MarriageUnderstanding the Borderline MotherUnhitchedUp in FlamesWe've Got IssuesWhat about the KidsWhat Goes UpWhat Is Secular Humanism?What It Means to Love YouWhat Our Children Teach UsWhen a Parent is DepressedWhen Mars Women DateWhen Someone You Love Is BipolarWhen Someone You Love Is DepressedWhy Are You So Sad?Will You, Won't You?WomanWorking With Emotional IntelligenceWorried All the TimeYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!
Rachel Resnick has a history of bad relationships with men. She identifies a pattern. First, she finds a man who is bound to be a poor candidate for a partner and they date: when it starts it is ecstatic, but it does not take long for arguments to start. She clings to the relationship long after it should have ended, and lets him treat her very badly. Her memoir opens as many other addiction memoirs do, with an event revealing how things can get. This one is from 2006 when her estranged partner Spencer broke into her apartment and poured water into her computer to ruin all the work she has been doing. Then, following the standard form of the addiction memoir, she goes back to her childhood to trace how the craziness started. We go to 1974 when she was a girl living with her younger brother and her deeply troubled mother. Her mother could not sustain a relationship with a man, and kept on hooking up with losers in the hope that they would treat her right. But her mother had terrible judgment, and just got involved with men who used her or who were paranoid and violent. Eventually her mother lost custody of her children, and not long after that, she killed herself.
Most of the book is devoted to telling the story of her unhappy self-destructive relationships intercut with flashbacks to her miserable childhood, connecting the two. Near the end of the book, she briefly describes how she started going to self help groups and then twelve step plans for love and sex addiction, reconnected with her brother and father, and made a better life for herself in her mid-forties.
Other readers of the book seem to find her story moving and compelling. Many other reviews highlight how Resnick has enormous honesty in baring her soul and revealing some of the messed up things she has done. A review by Elizabeth Bachner in Bookslut mentions that the book is hard to read and hard to put down. So maybe my reaction was unusual, but I found the book impossible to read from start to finish. After struggling with the first hundred pages, I gave up and skipped around the book, starting at the end and dipping in at various points. It's partly the writing: there's too much detail, and reading the book feels like being stuck in a corner at a party with a stranger telling you way too much about their personal life. The sentences are short and are full of dialog, yet the words never flow. The narrative skips from one time period to another frequently, sometimes several times within a few pages. The text has a staccato rhythm that jars and makes the reading difficult. The scrutiny of pain and bad decisions goes on and on. The story of recovery is given short shrift; it would have been interesting to get more perspective on the value of the twelve-step process to Resnick, especially as she worked through the steps and made amends to those she had hurt along the way, if that was part of the process. It would also be informative to know how much of a struggle Resnick finds it to avoid returning to her old ways of seeking inappropriate people to love and hook up with, and to what extent she feels that she has put that part of her life behind her.
For people wondering whether the label of addiction is appropriate when applied to people who have a great deal of random sex and get into many bad relationships, Resnick's memoir gives the impression that the fundamental cause of her problems was her experience as a child. She had bad role models and she learned to seek for affection from boys and men as a way to get a sense of her own worth. She also learned to make bad choices. It is also entirely possible that she was genetically predisposed to emotional problems given her family history. So to label her problem as "love and sex addiction" would be reductionist and simplistic. Despite the "love junkie" title of the memoir, this is not a theme that Resnick herself presses; one of the virtues of her investigation of her past is that it does give a sense of the complexity of her family history, in a strong American Jewish cultural context, and it is clear that it all contributes to the creation of her life story. Singling out particular causes of her problems and suggesting that any particular event or treatment cured her of her problems would be obviously ridiculous. Addiction here appears more as a compelling metaphor than a literal truth. The rules that Resnick follows as a way to get herself to break out of her old behaviors are quite simple, and they seem effective: no contact with Spencer her crazy ex-boyfriend, no sex, no "intriguing," no contact with men who trigger, minimum one recovery group meeting per week, no conversations with men over one minute. She also finds herself a sponsor. She finds that meetings with other "love junkies" is useful and she thanks the people she has met in twelve-step rooms for inspiring her.
So despite the challenges this memoir presents to some readers, it is still a valuable resource in thinking about people who get into a series of destructive relationships. I'd recommend that potential readers browse through a few pages first though in order to see how well Resnick's writing style suits them.
Link: Author website
© 2009 Christian Perring
Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.
Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology.
We feature over 8000 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and
We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.
Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'
Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send
review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank
you for your support!
Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these
announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click
Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers
for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.
Metapsychology Online Reviews
Promote your Page too
Metapsychology Online Reviews