11 January 2011

Post 290: Fried

Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive by Joan Borysenko.  ISBN: 9781401925505 (eBook).

I think I hate self-help books more than I hate mystery novels now.  I felt that this title had such great potential and then it just devolved into personal anecdotes that didn't really seem to illustrate much of anything, other than Borysenko trying to prove herself as a good person/teacher/therapist.  I really wish someone besides therapists would write these books because every time I read one of these it feels more like it's written for another therapist than the people it's actually trying to help.

In this case, Fried didn't really answer any of my questions.  It offered advice about how to prevent burnout, mostly by diet and exercise and meditation, but how am I supposed to be motivated to do that to begin with?  Well, there was the suggestion of doing a couple of writing exercises about what motivates me, but given all the writing I already do, that feels more like homework and less like something that's going to make me feel less overloaded.  Then there's the suggestion of doing something I enjoy, like going bowling.  A lot of the things I like doing cost money or I'm already doing or at least trying to do.

And this doesn't cover why I, specifically, am burned out.  It's focused more for people who are working, and specifically for people who are working at jobs they are ill-suited for.  Well, I already know what job I'm well suited for, I just can't get one.  So instead of being burned out from overwork, I'm burned out from underwork, and from the constant worry and stress that that has produced.  I am almost always on the verge of tears in frustration because I don't know what else to do.  I did sign up for a temp agency (finally) on the 5th and something may or may not come of that, but even if it leads to full time employment it probably won't be something I'm passionate about.

Anyway, I'm focusing too much on one book.  I dislike that the people who write these feel we need to know a whole bunch of psychological information before they tell us how to solve our problems (if they ever actually get around to it).  I would prefer they say, "these are the effects of this particular situation, here is some very basic background as to why and how.  Here is how you should fix it and the psychological changes that need to take place."  In fact, I don't even need to know about the psychological changes that will take place, I just need to know that it will work, that it will do something to make me happier or at least less miserable than I currently am.  I need to be productive, or at least more so in the area of applying to jobs, but every time I look at a job description I see all of the things that I'm not instead of all of the things that I am and I wonder how that's going to work against me.  These are things I can't change, but I also have no idea how to fend off the crushing sense of despair and uselessness that overcomes me every time I start a cover letter.

So, since self-help books don't seem to be helping me with this, I'm going to take some of Borysenko's advice.  I really enjoy not reading self-help books.  Let's try that for awhile.

My review can be found at Goodreads.  The only other reviews I've seen have been on Amazon.com.. at least one of the reviews was a person mentioned in the book.
LibsNote: Free copy received via NetGalley.


  1. I've got to admit that I haven't ever read a self-help book. Your review reminds me why (in a good way).

  2. I do think they have the potential to help people, but I really wish they would bring a Schmuck like me on board to review it and say, "Yeah, this part here, that's not helpful. This part here, this is you just talking to other professionals, keep that for the academic writing." If I want information on psychology I go to the non-fiction section, the self-help section needs to focus a bit more on the help side of the hyphen before it can be useful to anyone really in need of help.

    I know that there aren't any quick fixes in psychology, but maybe having something that says, here's what you can do _now_ would at least bring some relief so that working on my problems in the long run doesn't seem so...daunting.


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