Book Review - The Art of Learning To Love Yourself, Dr. Cecil G. Osborne, Paperback, Zondervan Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, pp. 158

Reviewed by John A. Speyrer

The late Cecil G. Osborne, Baptist minister and primal therapist, wrote a number of books on the therapy and also made suggestions about how to act to nudge out your own repressed feelings from your blocked consciousness. Besides writing The Art of Understanding Your Mate and The Art of Understanding Yourself he also wrote Understanding Your Past: The Key To Your Future which is reviewed on this website. In the 1970's he conducted a training program at his counseling center in Burlingame, California for those wanting training to become therapists.

Dr. Osborne, who termed his brand of psychotherapy, In Depth Therapy, believed that if you want to like yourself you must first know yourself - you must find out who you are and how you came to be the person you are. He felt that when we disclose to significant ones in our lives about ourselves, we begin to learn who we are. This intimate sharing of oneself to an empathic friend can begin this learning and feeling process. The author writes,

The art of learning to love ourselves involves, first, discovering how, as children, we learned to dislike ourselves, then through diligent effort we can learn to love ourselves properly. When we shall have achieved that, our relationships will begin to improve. Liking ourselves better, we discover a new and wonderful self-acceptance, and become capable of giving and receiving love. ( p. 9 )
The author believes, that as infants and young children, we were all damaged - even those who were brought up in a loving environment. Since many of our needs (not wants) were not supplied at home, we became convinced that we did not deserve to be liked. This negative self image was and is in direct proportion to how we were treated.

But it is not always the parents' fault. Taking the wrong advice can sometimes be calamitous. The author quotes the founder of behaviorial psychology as he gives some "helpful" childrearing tips to the parents of the twenties and thirties:

Mothers just don't know when they kiss their children and pick them up and rock them, caress them and jiggle them upon their knee, that they are slowly building up a human being totally unable to cope with the world it must later live in . . . There is a sensible way of treating children. Treat them as though they were young adults. . . Never kiss or hug them, never let them sit on your lap. Or if you must, kiss them on the forehead when you say goodnight. . . Can't a mother train herself to substitute a kindly word, a smile, in all her dealings with the child, for the kiss and the hug, the pickup and the coddlings?. . . If you havn't a nurse and cannot leave the child, put it out in the back yard a large part of the day. Build a fence around the yard so that you are sure no harm will come to it. Do this from the time it is born. . . If your heart is too tender and you must watch the child, make yourself a peephole so that you can see it without being seen. or use a periscope. Finally, learn not to talk in endearing and coddling terms. ( From J. B. Watson's Psychological Care of Infant and Child, 1928 )
Many who read these guidelines for raising children might have known better, but many who were raised without touch and without "the kiss and the hug" did not!

Most parents do the very best that they can do in raising their children. But when a parent is neurotic the very best is often not good enough. These parents did not cuddle and touch their children, because they themselves were not touched and held. So you can't blame the parents. They can't give to their children what they did not get from their parents. Osborne tells us to blame neither ourselves nor our parents.

So if we did not get love and acceptance, we strive to get substitutues - more money, more degrees, more possessions - name your behavior - to make up for the loss love. Achievement, Dr. Osborne writes, is not to be despised. However, In our struggle to achieve we should at least recognize our true motives.

And how can you tell if you lack self-love? Dr. Osborne writes that the key word which will give you the answer is excessive. Anything done in excess or feeling an inappropriate or even an appropriate feeling in excess, reveals a lack of self-love. Are you too sensitive? Do you over-react to comments and situations? Having an extremely critical attitude of others is another way neurosis is revealed. Extreme intolerance will also brand you as neurotic as well as having a compulsive need to argue or debate. Oh, oh, now he's talking about me! Is your anger fuse short? Can you forgive or do you hold grudges forever? Do you have problems with jealousy? Do you find it difficult to accept compliments? The list goes on and on.

Sections of the book deal with the relationships between disease and emotions, stress and emotions, emotions and cancer, emotions and heart disease and between self-esteem and depression.

Even though occasionally there is mention of the author's work as a therapist with In-Depth regression therapy, the author realizes that very few who read his book will go into regression therapy so he devotes much space writing about a number of behaviors which might change your attitude if you believe you were unloved in infancy and/or early childhood. I don't believe that one can substitute a good regressive therapy for suggestions, but Dr. Osborne in a Chapter entitled, Take The Risk! recommends that you should give up self-condemnation, or join a sharing group which stresses feelings. And check your motives, be helpful and loving to others, do things which will make you like yourself better, avoid postponements, pay compliments, and be forgiving towards yourself.

Act unneurotic, even if you are neurotic! He is right. If you do that, interesting things may begin to happen! ( See book reviews of: Jean Jenson's Reclaiming Your Life, J. Konrad Stettbacher's Making Sense of Suffering Thomas Stone's, Cure By Crying or Dr. Paul Vereshack's Help Me - I'm Tired of Feeling Bad )

In an appendix, Dr. Osborne writes more about his "in depth" regresssion therapy, to which he had only alluded to in the earlier chapters of his book. He describes how he first used techniques of primal therapy to help a woman who came to him for counseling. He mentions that detailed re-experiences of various birth traumas are common in the therapy.

Because the amount of repressed trauma and the levels of one's defenses against the pain are different he writes that there is no way of determining how many hours of therapy experiences are needed to resolve one's early hurts.

Return to the Regression Therapy Book Index