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Facing the Fire

A Book Review

Copyright © 1994 by Bert H. Hoff

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John Lee, Facing the Fire: Experiencing and Expressing Anger Appropriately. (New York, NY: Bantam, 1993) Order on-line

John Lee,

book cover
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Other John Lee books and tapes available on-line

John Leeís At my Fatherís Wedding(republished as The Wounded Lover)(order on-line) is a classic in Menís Work, but he remains better known in recovery circles (for example as the author of Flying Boy) (order on-line) than in Menís Work. This is our loss. His latest book is an important book because it deals directly with a topic we would just as soon avoid: weíre afraid to express anger outside the Wisdom Council circle because we canít tell the difference between anger and rage, and we are afraid that if we rage will not be able to control it. We may hurt or kill someone, we fear. But if we donít find an outlet for our anger, if we pretend it isnít there, we will bottle it up inside us until it attacks our bodies with ulcers or something, and ultimately kill us before our time.

John has an engaging, fast-reading writing style, especially when he is writing about his own experiences. He lays out his concepts simply, and they are easy to understand. He has wonderful and practical chapters on dealing with anger in your primary relationship and with your children.

I had the impression on reading it that he was speaking directly -- forcefully and candidly -- to me. He makes no bones about his misgivings about many forms of traditional therapy, or approaches in the best-selling books on anger that sound great, but simply donít work. Saying that anger is not a primary emotion and all you have to do is go beneath it to see what causes it is like saying that when you experience joy you should go explore whatís behind it. What we need to do, instead, is acknowledge it and find ways to express it safely. All you have to do is screw up the courage to put his techniques to work -- before that rage festers inside you, killing you, or boils out of you, hurting the ones you love.

Related stories:

 John Lee on Anger, an interview with John Lee by Bert H. Hoff


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