Monday, 25 February 2008

OLD REVIEW – Jo Coudert “Advice from a Failure”


Occasionally I shall add an old review of a book I have read previously – this one was read in early 1990s at which time I commented as follows:-
Bought a few days ago and started to read this morning this book with its fascinating title. I particularly liked the blurb which commented ‘Jo Coudert is brilliantly equipped to be the author of this book..’ No, it was not suggesting she was a failure; it went on to point out her expertise in medicine and psychiatry.

A few quotes from the Introduction –
“The happy, to borrow Arthur Koestler’s phrase, are rarely curious. They do not need to be. There is no more incentive for a contented person to go mucking about in the works than there is for a motorist to stop and lift the bonnet when the engine is ticking over smoothly. But the unhappy had better be curious or it is going to be a long, rough life.”

“Nietzsche has been quoted as saying, in effect, that if you can read your own life you can understand the hieroglyphics of universal life. Emerson noted, in another context, that ‘What is true for you in your private heart is true for all men’ and Polly Adler speaks of the ‘terrible algebra’ of one’s own life. These people seem to be saying that the algebra of one’s life, deeply understood, is the algebra of all lives, that we are all far more alike than different.”

Just prior to reading this I had argued that Miss Marple’s theories as evinced by Agatha Christie had a distinct element of truth in them. Miss Marple would assess the nature of a person by comparing them to someone in her village of St Mary Meade. In other words, people fell into a comparatively few, predictable categories with remarkable similarities. and here, reading Jo Coudert, was a similar theory set down by a psychiatrist.

This self-help book focused on the self as an answer to the questions and problems of one's own life. Jo took the tragic, autobiographical elements of her own life and applied them to this work in hopes of helping others in similar situations.

“...all that truly counts is the relationship to the self—the self as deeply as it can be known, as fully as it can be accepted, as genuinely as it can be lived–for from that relationship all else proceeds.”

“You do not need to be loved, not at the cost of yourself. The single relationship that is truly central and crucial in a life is the relationship to the self. Of all the people you will know in a lifetime, you are the only one you will never lose. To the problems of life you are the only solution”

JO COUDERT was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1923. After attending the Dean Academy and Smith College, Coudert put her writing and illustrating talents to good use. She has explored interesting topics within her works, ranging from health and healing to the role of pets in people's lives. Another self-help book of Coudert's was published in 1972 entitled 'The Alcoholic in Your Life'. This book contained advice and coping strategies for those involved in a relationship with an alcoholic.
In 1995, she paired up with Yvonne S. Thornton, M.D. to write 'The Ditchdigger’s Daughters: A Black Family's Astonishing Success Story'.

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