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Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite
Surviving Our Parents’ Mistakes: Healing the Scars from Childhood Mistreatment—Second Edition by Larry Godwin, Ph.D., is a compilation of the author’s lifelong problems from having grown up with a single abusive mother, who, her husband having abandoned her, placed all her attention, useful and not, on her son. Dr. Godwin was not physically free to find his own way until he left home for college. From then on, he struggled to understand and to manage the personality defects he came to understand were a direct result of his chaotic upbringing. He writes his book using footnoted professional references from the psychological community. Though the exact incidences of difficult behaviors are not chronological, the reader can read between the lines to construct the confused life path of the author and, more importantly, the coping methods he eventually learned.
I was particularly intrigued by the format Larry Godwin uses. Instead of a chronology of life experiences, he divides his story into topics: Depression, Insecurity, Self-Concept and Self-Esteem, Guilt, Responsibility and Obligation, Engulfment and Confinement, Control and Assertiveness, Anger, and Stress. Within this framework, he presents journal-like vignettes, demonstrating first the emotional reaction to a specific event (a student criticizes him) with the rational antidote (his right to defend himself). Especially poignant is his long evolution from blaming his mother to forgiving her. He anchors his views with references to a variety of experts, clearly footnoted. What stands out is his brutal self-criticism and honesty, almost as if we’re eavesdropping on actual psychoanalytical office sessions. By using himself as an example, Dr. Godwin presents answers for anyone whose damaging childhood has created often debilitating struggles in adult life. Having traveled a bit on that route myself, I am grateful for this enlightening book: Surviving Our Parents’ Mistakes: Healing the Scars from Childhood Mistreatment, Second Edition by Larry Godwin, Ph.D.