Top critical review
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This book is biased and harmful
on August 8, 2011
I come from an abusive family, in which my father was violently abusive toward my mother, myself and my siblings. My mother was also emotionally and verbally abusive, extremely manipulative and oftentimes cruel. Yet because my father's behaviour was explicit and my mother's more subtle, he was labeled as the scapegoat 'abuser' by society and she was treated as pure and innocent. While recognizing the faults and failings of my father I resent the biased way society looks at the breakdown of our family. This book continues the tradition of blaming the man for all abusive behaviour in dysfunctional marriages. While the man should be held 100% responsible for his actions, in almost all messed up relationships BOTH partners have behaved abusively toward each other and both need to take responsibility before healing can occur.
While this book may be useful in helping to understand/recognize when one is in an abusive relationship, Bancroft does not offer effective solutions to transform such relationships into healthy ones and admits his methods usually fail. After reading this book I believe it is ultimately harmful.
Bancroft states he works largely with clients on probation who have no choice but to attend his sessions. He has no formal training in psychology or psychiatry and yet he dismisses all evidence-based therapies. Instead he introduces his own techniques, cites no studies demonstrating the methods work, and admits on p357 that the majority of his attempts to change clients in his program fail. He repeatedly blames the clients for this rather than his own methods.
In addition the book is full of inaccurate and misleading statements. For example Bancroft states on p45 that only men abuse women, and it is a 'myth' that women abuse men. This contradicts hundreds of studies by psychologists and psychiatrists showing that both men and women can be abusive in relationships. Bancroft offers no scientific studies to back up his claims. He goes on to make the bizarre assertion that while women can abuse each other in lesbian relationships, they do not abuse men while in heterosexual relationships.
The fact that Bancroft does not follow evidence-based therapeutic practices hurts both men and women who follow his advice. Many couples in abusive relationships love each other and sincerely want things to change. By using dubious methods, Bancroft often makes the situation worse.
Much better books are out there, for example The Emotionally Abusive Relationship: How to Stop Being Abused and How to Stop Abusing.