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Families and How to Survive Them

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  491 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Written in an unconventional dialogue form, this book explores the inner workings of the modern family, and the interactions between couples and their children.
Paperback, 152 pages
Published November 29th 1984 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1983)
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Milica Chotra
Dec 15, 2012 Milica Chotra rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Milica by: Milenija Trandafilovic
"Čuveni Pajtonovac i njegov psihoterapeut u duhovitom dijalogu otkrivaju kako struktura porodica iz kojih smo potekli oblikuje nas i naše živote, i nude ohrabrenje i putokaz za ostvarenje sreće," piše na korici ove knjige. Skeptik, kakva sam, nisam u njoj tražila putokaz za sreću, pa ni ohrabrenje, ali me je zanimalo psihološko objašnjenje uticaja porodičnog okruženja na naš psihosocijalni razvoj, a budući ljubitelj britanskog humora, očekivala sam da ću se usput i zabaviti. Umesto toga, dobila ...more
Oct 31, 2013 Jo rated it liked it
Oof. I think this may be a brilliant example of remembering what's valuable and forgetting the rest. I remember reading this book years ago and finding the discussions of how and why we replicate family relationships and how we are drawn to people hiding the same problems as ourselves fascinating. And so they are still. But I'd completely forgotten the outdated ideas about the causes of depression, autism or schizophrenia; the positivity around fairly strict 'innate' gender roles and the snark a ...more
Graeme Cumming
Mar 17, 2014 Graeme Cumming rated it it was amazing
Most books should be read once, so it doesn't matter whether you buy it or borrow it. In this case, it does matter. Everyone should have a copy, and everyone should read it at least once every 5 years.

If you see the name John Cleese, you might be expecting belly laughs. You might enjoy the occasional smile, and you won't get bored, but you won't be rolling around on the floor laughing. I don't say that to put you off - just manage your expectations.

This book will open your eyes to the way in whi
Sep 23, 2010 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010, read-1998
Excellent. Written as conversations between John Cleese (of Fawlty Towers fame) and his family therapist, Robin Skynner. This book looks at psychiatry for the layman, in terms of why some people are happy while others aren't; why some people have repressed emotions, and what happens to them; what can cause people to become 'stuck' in their development from babyhood.

I don't agree with every word - the recommendations about strict discipline for children seem over-harsh to me, for instance - but
Nov 12, 2011 Slaa!!! rated it liked it
This book was a bit hard for me to get through. Perhaps psychology isn't my thing. But I got interested towards the end, once it got into all of the sexual identity stuff. I also wonder if psychiatrists etc even still have these same beliefs, since the book was written almost 30 years ago now. But I will read anything John Cleese has anything to do with and that is the cross I have to bear.
Jan 14, 2016 Greymalkin rated it really liked it
The whole book is written in dialogue form between John Cleese and his old Therapist (Skynner). They discuss the psychological development of the child and how it can be disrupted. How we chose our partners and how families repeat patterns of behaviour down through the generations is looked at in great depth.

They discuss some very complicated psychoanalytic theory in a very accessible way, without once mentioning any technical terms. I already know a great deal of what they were discussing, but
This was a very interesting read but kind of dated, especially the part about child discipline. I did learn a lot, though now I want to read more on the subject but from a more modern perspective.
Marc Borgers
Oct 25, 2009 Marc Borgers rated it it was amazing
If you have little children and want to know what is going on in their head, this is a good start...
If you want to know why you married the partner you are married to, this is a good start too...
D.A. Cairns
Nov 10, 2012 D.A. Cairns rated it liked it
An interesting and different book on psychology which is aimed at the average reader rather than the psychology student or medical expert. It takes the form of a conversation between English funnyman, John Cleese and his psychologist, Robin Skinner. Much like actual conversation, it tends to ramble at times, but it is quite witty. I could hear Cleese's voice in my head as I read. It also features cartoon illustrations which add to the "not too heavy" feel to the book.

As Freud blamed all psycholo
May 13, 2013 Claire rated it really liked it
I've read this before many years ago and remember finding all the cartoons funny but possibly alarmingly I don't think I took anything away from the book. This time I found it much more interesting, possibly because I have my time for non fiction now and also because I am in a better place in my life. Being pregnant probably helped as I'm very open to creating a fabulously nurturing environment for my little sproglett whilst trying to figure out how to handle my current step-mother hang ups and ...more
Oct 04, 2008 David rated it liked it
While I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology, I tend to avoid book on this topic. Perhaps I just had enough in college. But I was encouraged to read this book and decided to do so at least in part due to the co-authorship of John Cleese of Monty Python fame. I hope that his participation would inject some humor into the discussion. However very little humor can be found in this volume. But there is still some interesting insights and interesting proposals raised. It is a slim volume but it ...more
Алена Tалапіла
Вельмі цікавы і сістэмны выклад псіхалагічнага развіцця чалавека ад уласнага нараджэння да нараджэння сваіх дзяцей.
Alice Florence
Jan 07, 2016 Alice Florence rated it it was ok
Shelves: on-shelf
This book is written as an informal chat between Cleese and Skynner where they discuss how people's family influences who they choose as a partner and how that feeds on to how their new family functions once they have kids. Some bits are interesting - after reading it, I notice a lot more how couples seem to come from similar background even if the similarities aren't obvious. However, a lot of the theory and ideas are just too dated for me to pay them much attention at all. Homosexuals are devi ...more
Hilarisch en spijkers met koppen..tof voor mensen met moeilijke familieperiodes
Oct 02, 2012 Svetlana rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
It is particularly interesting how psychoterapy tends to make itself religion-like by owing virtually all inconveniencies of human personality to such early a childhood that no method of proving particular behavior of patient or patient's parents in that period exists. Still, no verifiable explanations of various pathologic and/or semi-pathologic states. This book contains a bunch of unconventional ideas, though without solid proof of them, therefore my rating is only 3*.
Thomas Strömquist
"I was incredibly impressed with this book when I was younger and I've read it a number of times. The psychology of people functioning (or rather, not) as families is explored and explained by Robin Skynner in conversations with John Cleese. However, it does feel dated now, and some of the ideas perhaps turned out not to be the truth. It is still highly enjoyable though, containing both insights as well as a lot of fun passages and comments."
Jan 07, 2013 Anna rated it it was amazing
Může být knížka psaná formou rozhovoru Johna Cleese z Monty Pythonů s psychiatrem vůbec špatná? Nejde to. Rozmělnění kresleným vtípkem přicházejí přesně ve chvílích, kdy témata začínají být na laika přece jen trochu moc psycho. Povinná literatura pro všechny, kteří uvažují o tom, že by si jednoho dne mohli někoho vzít a mít s ním nedejbože dítě.
Sep 06, 2011 Pat rated it liked it
Read this when it was first published as part of my husband's search for the reasons behind some of his behaviour patterns. All part of facing up to his depressive side. I found some of it very good, but obviously didn't agree with all of it. I think I discovered that I was a "good enough" mother rather than a perfect one.
May 10, 2011 Kathy rated it really liked it
Very good intro to stuff you might not know about how we chose our friends, partners etc.

Nicely written, in an understandable format, a conversation between Sinner and Cleese.

Very helpful in unpicking some of the crap that we encounter in interactions with our families.

I recommend this to my daughter Jo!
Mar 20, 2015 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read, but only scratching the surface. As soon as I felt like we were getting somewhere, it moved on to a new subject. But I guess that's what the goal of the book was, to give a brief overview of everything in the earlier personal development and family. Interesting nevertheless.
Alain van Hoof
Jan 21, 2013 Alain van Hoof rated it it was amazing
Read the Dutch version. Very interesting psychology theories about how we become what we are, depending on our first 4 years after birth. Makes you look to your family relations with a new perspective.
Valerie Thompson
Apr 19, 2012 Valerie Thompson rated it really liked it
I read this book in the eighties and it resonated deeply, plus it was terribly funny. And my enthusiasm for it hasn't dimmed because last year I bought a copy for my daughter, who's in her thirties.
May 22, 2013 Grant rated it liked it
OK tho theoretical basis (all cited references date from about 1980 or before) seem pretty dated. Monty Python fans prolly should note there's practically nothing amusing about this book.
Georgi Danov
Apr 05, 2013 Georgi Danov rated it it was amazing
This is a book that everybody starting a family must read. The ultimate manual for (beginning to ) understand where you stand and what challenges to expect from your relationship.
Michael Dorothy
Dec 26, 2013 Michael Dorothy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
This book is amazing. It answered to my main questions regarding relationships in family.
Jun 18, 2011 Paul rated it liked it
Read this 25 years ago; some of it was rather odd (especially the bits about children and discipline) and the rest was pretty much stating the obvious
Luka Debeljak
Apr 26, 2013 Luka Debeljak rated it it was amazing
I really amazing insight into the parenthood, marriage and what you can influence or do wrong. Written in an interview form... Everyone can learn a lot!
Mark Abbott
Dec 27, 2015 Mark Abbott rated it it was ok
Initially revealing, but as I get older I disagree with some of the stuff in the book. At times witty though.
Sophie Vyncke
May 17, 2015 Sophie Vyncke rated it liked it
Leuk om tussendoor in de bladeren, passages opnieuw te lezen en er even over na te denken.
Anastasia Alfimova
Apr 17, 2011 Anastasia Alfimova rated it it was amazing
Tells a lot interesting things about your family and how it influences one's personality.
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Robin Skynner was a Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot who flew the Mosquito twin-engined bomber, and was also a psychiatric pioneer and innovator in the field of treating mental illness. Trained in Group Analysis and working as a child psychiatrist, and a family therapist, he employed group-analytic principles in that therapeutic modality. He was a gifted teacher and practitioner of psychotherapy with i ...more
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