Book Reviews

Controlling People - Patricia Evans - Adams

When any book about abuse is written its very important that the author makes it clear that it not definitive. The reason for this is that abusers are some of the most complex people you could ever come across. The effect they have on vulnerable people is devastating. That is one of the things that links them altogether, but there are patterns and similarity in abuse In Controlling People - Patricia Evans by use of example - goes someway to explaining this.

There are many outstanding chapters in the book - but one of the best is ‘Backwards Connections’ ‘The Pretend Person’ in this chapter is a person to whom anyone who’s been involved in and around abusive therapy would know very well. Many clients/survivors spend a great deal of time blaming themselves when their therapy goes badly wrong.

Trying to find a simple explanation for the sudden switch from nice to very nasty becomes vital. Yet in a sentence Patricia makes its all so clear. Therapy like any relationship is about finding out about each other - it should not be about building a trap - for your partner or client to fall into - but that is exactly what the Pretend Person does.

The trap is to create a feeling of total security - a feeling of ease. When that is done, the pretense comes to end - and the real person comes forward - with the intention of changing the client or partner into something more acceptable to them, if that fails - they are left with only one course rejection. More often than not it doesn’t fail - and the client/partner will make every effort to please the abuser. Its very possible that the abuser as made it plain that if change does not take place some form of punishment - usually rejection will take place.

Another area of control not mentioned in the book is what could be called ‘Remote Control’ Examples of the abuser and co-abuser are everywhere. At its very simplest its saying something didn’t happen - invalidating a person/client in order to try and shut them up. In it more complex forms the co-abuser ‘Remote Control’ can exceed the original abuse, and may even pushed someone into abuse.

If for whatever reason A does not like C, they will encourage B to attack or hurt C. It looks like B is the abuser when in fact its A. A of course will then use denial to make sure that the blame is on B. What it needs is for B to gain the courage and attack A for causing the problem or starting the abuse - but a mixture of shame from B and anger from C, usually means that A walks away pleading her innocence to rest of the alphabet, some of whom take sides with A and B. C is left in a very shattered state with little or no trust. Controlling People is a great start, and a worthy follow up to other books by Patricia on the subject of abuse. Like it states on the book cover. “Should you ever find yourself in the thrall of someone close to you, ‘Controlling People’ is here to give you the wisdom, power and comfort you need to be a stronger, happier and more independent person.”

- Ray Hurford

Control Connections - A Discussion forum has been set up on Yahoo Groups for the purpose of discussing the ideas and concepts in the book "Controlling People: How to understand and Deal with People who try to Control You" by Patricia Evans. The discussion is endorsed by Patricia Evans. The web address is

Anna Sands

Falling For Therapy

Psychotherapy from a client's point of view

Macmillan Press £15.99


Books about the therapy industry tend to be written by therapists. Its their industry, they know it best. But do they? For every therapist out there, there is at any one time anything from 5 to 20 clients at least a year. Some of them end up being abused for no other reason than they tried to find some help for a problem. This incredible book takes us on a very sad journey. One that ended in the mental breakdown of the author, all because she turned to a so called professional for help.

In 18 chapters Anna Sands, a teacher and author turns her professional expertise onto a subject that is lacking in that area and is proud of it - Therapy. At long last someone who knows words and language inside out and backwards as come along to rip into the pretenious and verbose world of therapy. Each chapter explains itself, puts forward the theory and then provides the reality in conclusion. Some of these conclusions are painful, but anyone's who's ever been in abusive therapy will know that Anna speaks the truth.


At Personal Risk

By Marilyn Peterson


This is a tremendous book; anyone with an interest in the problems of abuse in therapy should read this work. From the point of view of a survivor of abuse its approach is inspiring. The validation is from page one to the closing pages. The most important thing about it, is the lack of psychobabble. The book draws upon examples of abuse, and how the abuse spirals out from just two people to involve many. All the while though Marilyn remains positive about the problem. The damage to an individual is great - full recovery is not realistic. Dealing with the problems is, and is the essence of this book.


Emotional Intelligence

By Daniel Goleman


From the opening quote from Aristotle in the form of Aristotle's Challenge

"Anyone can become angry-that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way - this is not easy."

Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

You know that Daniel Goleman has done his research. The emotional abuse that all survivors are familiar with is described in this excellent book as 'Emotional Hi-jacking'. It's very painful reading. Slowly but surely he untangles the various strands that make up emotional abuse. Which include stories of abuse that are linked in turn to the medical reasons for abuse or emotional hi-jacking. Like 'At Personal Risk' by Marilyn Peterson he also offers hope to abusers and abused alike. The only problem I can see with this is convincing certain people that the problem exists.

Folie A Deux

By Rosey Alexander

Free Association Books

Rosey Alexander's book is at this moment in time the only book written by a survivor, and available. When you consider the huge amount of books out there on counselling and therapy - all written by counsellors and therapists you quickly realise that this is a book you must read.

This is a true story set in France in the early nineties. Only the names have been changed. It's clear that Rosey needed some kind of help, but instead of help she finds emotional abuse.

Rosey in real life does not accept that. The copy of the book I read was kindly loaned to me from a member of the network who highlighted her book every time abuse occurred. Every single highlight was one I had experienced. Other members of the network have made similar comments. Validation like it or not is the only term for this. Your book Rosey is about abuse.


Out Of Bounds -

Janice Russell -


Very similar in concept to Marilyn Peterson's book 'At Personal Risk'. Although at times it comes across a little bit cold. The opening pages are as good as 'At Personal Risk'. It certainly helped me in the build up to my processing session with my counsellor and supervisor. When I came out with "You are invalidating my experience." It was worth the price of the book alone. The opening pages really are the key to understanding this work. A lack of respect for the client, is one of her main points here. When you're feeling down coming across emotional abuse is impossible to deal with. You dress emotional abuse up in two bizarre concepts 'Unconditional Positive Regard' and 'Challenging' and you have the two main ideas that the therapy industry works by. Both of them add to the problems of the client. Respect is much better. You can disagree with someone's opinion but still respect them. The reality is consistency. Abuse is inconsistency. No one is perfect. It is a struggle to be consistent, but it is a struggle that each and every one of us need to be involved in everyday.