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If Men Could Talk: Translating the Secret Language of Men [Paperback]

Alon Gratch
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 6 2002
This in-depth look into the seven attributes that can be used to help decode and interpret male behavior and explains the underpinnings of their outer behavioral patterns is presented. It also includes practical insights and useful tips on how women and men can learn how to talk, and to change men's non-verbal, action-oriented communications into the language of emotional dialogue.

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From Publishers Weekly

Women drawn to this book by its promise to unlock men's secrets will find that following Gratch's premise requires more effort and sophistication than following the work of John Gray. Though this book holds insights into the male psyche and into the therapeutic process itself, readers looking for a quick fix or easy characterizations will be disappointed. Despite the clever title, Gratch serves up fairly serious theory flavored with dollops of Russian literature and only brief suggestions on dealing with men's behavior. Rather than suggest manipulative tactics, he urges women to hone their emotional understanding, in one case advising women to be like a "detective" in probing for emotions. Observing that "the cornerstone of man's gender identity is his feminine, not masculine, desires," this Westchester, N.Y., clinical psychologist surveys men's motivations using popular catchphrases: "boys don't cry" (shame); "I don't know what I feel" (emotional absence); "tired of being on top" (insecurity); "see me, touch me" (self-involvement); "I'll show you who's boss" (aggression); "I'm such a loser" (self-destruction); "I want sex now" (sexual acting out). In alternately familiar and intriguing composite patient profiles, Gratch illustrates each behavior, documenting his reactions to being challenged and engaged by--and at times almost jousting with--patients. (Feb. 20)Forecast: While Gratch aims for a dual readership, his catchy title and topic are designed to attract media attention and a stampede of women buyers. However, he may have pitched this one too high for a mass audience.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Gratch, a clinical psychologist with more than 20 years of experience (Columbia Univ. and Columbia Presbyterian Hosp.), has taken a distinctly psychoanalytical view of why men do what they do. He posits seven attributes in an attempt to explain male behavior: shame, emotional absence, self-involvement, masculine insecurity, aggression, self-destructiveness, and sexual acting-out. The author blames a lot of these issues on men tryingAbut not being fully ableAto hide the feminine part of their psyches. He also blames a lot of gender conflict on men reacting negatively to women being too "womanly": because they don't like the feminine aspects of their own psyches, they feel called upon to revile these aspects in others. This tendentious work is a marginal purchase for most libraries; buy where Sigmund Freud is still "the man" and patrons believe that a cigar is never a cigar.APamela A. Matthews, Gettysburg Coll., PA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Explains a lot, but not too encouraging Feb. 21 2004
By Natalie
If you can forgive the author, a psychologist, his long detours into stories about his patients, which sometimes bear only a tangential relationship to the subject at hand, you will find a lot of value in this little book. The value lies in the author's description of seven attributes that supposedly cause the majority of men's problems: Shame, Emotional Absence, Masculine Insecurity, Self-Involvement, Aggression, Self-Destructiveness, and Sexual Acting-Out. Each of these attributes has its own chapter, and each is well-explained.
Where the book falls down is in its failure to offer suggestions for improvement for the men themselves. The healed man is never discussed, and in fact, Gratch makes the entire prospect of a self-aware man seem pretty unlikely. It seems that in the author's view, men are in the dark about themselves, and it's almost impossible for them to be otherwise.
This problem can be illustrated with the example of the heavy use in the book of the word "paradoxical." For instance, it is paradoxical that men will, in seeking "space" from one woman, make love to another. Once the author has labeled a behavior or trait a paradox, which he does a lot, no further exploration is required. "Paradox" is code for "it doesn't make sense and I'm at a loss to explain it." If so much of men's behavior is paradoxical, I'd think a discussion of that very issue would be in order.
A big drawback for me as a woman was the frequent reference to things a girlfriend or spouse could/should do in a specific situation with her man, something that would be ultimately healing for him. The problem is, these actions invariably required walking on eggshells - do this but don't do that, say this but don't say that - which was counter-intuitive to me and probably a lot of other women as well.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A little too Freudian Sept. 4 2002
By Sheri
I found this book interesting - it's well written, well thought out, and many neat anecdotes. However, the author is clearly Freudian, and can go a little overboard with the psychoanalysis. I guess I'm biased because I lean towards behaviorial psychology, but I found that the Freudian allusions got in the way.
So, if you're Freudian, you'll love this book. Otherwise, there are better options out there.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Primer on actually Understanding Men April 27 2002
Gratch is a clinical psychologist who has spent many years working predominantly with men. One of the most common complaints from women about men is that they don't talk. This book is the result of years of getting men to talk and finding out what they would say, if they would talk openly. Covering several areas from shame to sexual acting out, this is not a book about quick fixes but a detailed analysis of the psyche of men and what goes on under the surface.
Gratch breaks his analysis down to seven key attributes that you must understand in order to understand men. First are the defensive attributes of Shame and Emotional Absence. He explains how these affect a man's thoughts and actions as well as what can be done about it. Then he discusses the four things that affect a man when he finally does open up. These are Masculine Insecurity, Self-Involvement, Aggression, and Self-Destructiveness. And finally he discusses the practice of Sexual Acting-Out.
An interesting and provocative book, some readers (mostly men) will have a problem with the analysis and some will find it enlightening. Reasonably argued and filled with interesting insights, it is a reasonable analysis of how many men really operate deep inside.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A truly enlightening view of men March 8 2001
This book gave me insights into the male psyche and a perspective from this therapist's point of view. No only did Dr.Gratch open new avenues in which to communicate with men but he also shared much of himself with the reader. In this book, it is evident that his own journey was both difficult and rewarding. It is easy to see how he was able to relate to his patients and described the uneasy paths they endure. His descriptions of his patients and their voyages through therapy are enlightening and sometimes amusing. I highly recommend this book for both men and women. It is an eye opener!
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