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When the Past Is Present: Healing the Emotional Wounds that Sabotage our Relationships

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  294 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
In this book, psychotherapist David Richo explores how we replay the past in our present-day relationships—and how we can free ourselves from this destructive pattern. We all have a tendency to transfer potent feelings, needs, expectations, and beliefs from childhood or from former relationships onto the people in our daily lives, whether they are our intimate partners, fr ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 22nd 2008 by Shambhala
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Nov 04, 2013 Rebekah rated it liked it
Indulging my recent compulsion for self-help books is usually a guilty pleasure, but this one quotes Goethe and Sartre, and incorporates lots of Buddhism, but not in a gross new-agey way. I love it.
Oct 12, 2011 Mary rated it it was amazing
Excellent. I don't see any religious overtones to this one, despite other comments. But then I have been involved in therapy or something similar for many years. There is much wisdom in parts of Eastern thought, as well as traditional Western thinking, if you have an open mind.

It is a rather profound book to read if you suffered from bullying and abuse during your childhood, which does happen in the best of homes. It helped me to see how past actions affect what's going on in the present on man
Apr 24, 2009 Bridgett rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
I tend to get overly attached to people and project a lot; this book helped to clear up a lot of my thoughts patterns and behaviors.
Aug 07, 2012 Clinton rated it liked it
Ok, so I am a little conflicted over this book - has a lot of good in it, Buddhist inspired ideas about dealing with pain, boundaries, acceptance of the givens in life, and good strategies for processing the past so that it does not impact negatively on present relationships, and on what are called the 5 A's of Adult relationships. I am conflicted because of some craziness right at the end about necessity of religion, and a little too much of the collective consciousness that Jung got sucked int ...more
I thought this was an okay read. The concept of transference is really interesting and insightful. Awareness of this occurring is definitely helpful.

For me, personally, I wasn't so taken with the writing style. It feels like it went on much longer than it needed to on some concepts and was also written at a higher level...not in an academic or condescending way but in a way of presenting overall concepts without applying to case studies, bringing in research information, or giving specific examp
Dec 18, 2009 Chad rated it it was amazing
Transference, Projection and Displacement.
oh my!
Richo tells it how it is ... for the emotionally complex adult. apt for family, workplace and friends.
Carlton Brown
Mar 25, 2015 Carlton Brown rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book to those seeking to evolve an understanding of relationship success, and what we do to undermine that inherent potential. This book well integrates psychotherapy with the spiritual, personal with the transpersonal, and the individual with the collective, to show you a proactive way forward to profound personal healing, authentic intimacy and relationship success.

It represents a wealth of information for understanding how childhood emotional wounds become exposed in
Amy Fujiwara
Apr 18, 2016 Amy Fujiwara rated it did not like it
The topic is intriguing, but the book is disorganized, repetitive, uses too many Emily Dickinson quotes (and I love Emily Dickinson). I could picture the author's paragraphs on index cards, on his livingroom floor, and him struggling to fit all of them in each chapter. It needed lots of editing. And I couldn't really connect with his voice.

Great concept; not very practical. Hope there are more books on similar topics soon.
Jan 07, 2011 Mara rated it liked it
I appreciated the Buddhist take on relationships/psychology and thought there was some good background and examples of how/why transference occurs and how being more aware of these factors can turn it from an impediment to a useful tool. Being more self-aware and mindful of our own and others transference interactions will be helpful in navigating communications/interactions and moving beyond real or perceived road blocks.
Libby Stott
Mar 18, 2016 Libby Stott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, profound, wise, compassionate book! Very helpful. Also, he draws upon the literary tradition in a masterful way and has musical writing.

This is a book I will refer back to as I go through life, especially its insights on transference.

Apr 04, 2009 Shervin rated it liked it
It covers how past experiences reflect in our current relationships. Why we want to experience our past unconsciously. It is interesting book; sometime may get too dry.
May 03, 2015 Toni added it
I REALLY wanted to like this book more than I did. That being said, David Richo gives a lot of insight into the WHYS of emotional wounds, how to face those situations that have left you wounded and some general guidance as to how to get on the path to recovery. I could have done without the ham-handed attempts at using "white light spirituality" in the text but overall, this was a good resource for me to begin a lot of the inner work that I needed to start having a healthy relationship with myse ...more
Jun 14, 2016 Barbara rated it liked it
Recommended to Barbara by: Came across it in the library
A worthwhile and helpful guide to understanding the unconscious expectations, thoughts and feelings that affect our relationships. I appreciated the author's acknowledging the spiritual part of our being without advocating a specific faith affiliation (although Buddhism seemed to be the dominant one).
There is certainly much to think about even if a traumatic childhood (bad mother/father - "wicked stepmother") has not been an issue. As the author, suggests, transference is a part of growing-up an
Lisa Hinkley
Feb 25, 2016 Lisa Hinkley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-help
I am actually still reading this but it is the best book ever for understanding human relationships and why we do what we do. I have found it extremely useful lately as I try to crack the code in some of the goings on with friends and family. It is fascinating...part psychology and part spirituality....they are inextricably linked. I cannot stop marveling. Crazy that it took me 50 years to understand this stuff. I want to buy each of my friends a copy. Then we can all be enlightened and find pea ...more
May 15, 2013 Brandy rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. He took the complex issues of projection and transference and simplified them. I loved how he used myth and religious references that respected all paths that are available to people. He made it very palatable for people of all faiths and didn't over complicate the issue for people who aren't psychology majors! Loved it, and learned so much from it!
Amelia Mulder
Sep 03, 2013 Amelia Mulder rated it really liked it
David Richo's thoughtful book is one I will have to revisit a few times. The book deals eloquently with the subject of transference and how we can become more mindful in our relationships by being aware of our own and others' transferences. I am looking forward to exploring more books by this author.
Jul 11, 2015 Burcu rated it liked it
although a very helpful and informative book,i found it very difficult to read. Very dry and textbook like.
Celia Juliano
Dec 26, 2015 Celia Juliano rated it it was amazing
Reading this book has impacted my life already. Just knowing about everyday transference in relationships is a game-changer for me; the practices in this book are helping me become more aware of how I interact with others.
Jan 06, 2014 Chris is currently reading it
This is a thinking book.
Apr 09, 2016 Abby rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
This was a weird read for me.
Aug 21, 2012 Janet rated it it was amazing
Spectacular. David Richo tops my list of authors to read when you want to learn how relationships function..and how and why they go off course.
Kristin Sanden
Feb 20, 2012 Kristin Sanden rated it liked it
Thought provoking and very interesting. Reinforced much of what I am exploring through mindfulness. Got repetitive and dry at times though
Oct 20, 2010 Kristina rated it it was ok
Couldn't stand reading this because of the author continuing to talk about buddhism. I'm sorry, I am a Christian.
Sep 23, 2008 Nina rated it really liked it
A bit technical for anyone that is not familiar with psychoanalytic terminology. But I loved it.
Jul 27, 2011 Mary rated it really liked it
Very intense book....very good, but very intense.
Dec 21, 2012 Whisper rated it it was ok
A bit repetitive but there are some good points.
May 26, 2009 Lcthomps rated it liked it
Relationship is messy.
Samantha Ogilvie
Feb 13, 2011 Samantha Ogilvie rated it really liked it
Ismail N.
Ismail N. is currently reading it
Oct 22, 2016
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David Richo, PhD, is a therapist and author who leads popular workshops on personal and spiritual growth.

He received his BA in psychology from Saint John's Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts, in 1962, his MA in counseling psychology from Fairfield University in 1969, and his PhD in clinical psychology from Sierra University in 1984. Since 1976, Richo has been a licensed marriage, family, and chi
More about David Richo...

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“In a true you-and-I relationship, we are present mindfully, nonintrusively, the way we are present with things in nature.We do not tell a birch tree it should be more like an elm. We face it with no agenda, only an appreciation that becomes participation: 'I love looking at this birch' becomes 'I am this birch' and then 'I and this birch are opening to a mystery that transcends and holds us both.” 53 likes
“Transference is essentially a compulsion to return to our past in order to clear up emotionally backlogged business.” 11 likes
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