11/07/2005

Emotional Vampires (by Albert J Bernstein)

I've never before read anything by Albert J Bernstein, or know anything about him. But I'd had this book recommended to me more than once on various mailing lists, so eventually decided it would be worth reading.

The full title of the book is: 'Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People who Drain you Dry'. It's American - not surprisingly - and the style is fairly informal. It's quite different from the usual psychology or personality type books; instead of showing the value of all kinds of people, and trying to help us understand each other better, this book examines the types of people who make us feel drained, labelling them as 'vampires'.

I suppose it's not a very helpful term as such. The book does acknowledge that these 'vampires' were probably damaged as children, or in some other way, making them behave as they do. It doesn't suggest that, like the mythical vampire bats, these people try to bite us to make them become like they are. Indeed, many of the 'vampires' of the book are attention-seeking, sure they are unique in some way, and definitely not wanting others to be like they are.

Still, having got over the slightly dubious metaphor, the point is very well made. Some people just are draining. It's not their core personality, for other people with similar personality preferences are not draining at all. It's something else.

The book gives us check-lists for each of the types of 'vampire' described, enabling us to see more clearly what it is about certain people that makes us feel exhausted when dealing with them. There are also some useful hints about working with each of the types mentioned, as well as some general advice.

It's a bit exaggerated in places, but I could definitely relate to some of the people described in the book. Quite a relief, in a way, to see their negative traits pointed out as such - not something we should necessarily learn to learn to like.

Recommended.

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