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by Pauline Wallin
Beyond Words Publishing, 2001
Review by Kendell C. Thornton, Ph.D. on Mar 29th 2002

Taming Your Inner Brat

Pauline Wallin’s new book, Taming Your Inner Brat: A Guide for Transforming Self-Defeating Behavior, appears to be an entertaining book that provides the reader with insight into common psychological sources of self-defeating thoughts and behavior.  In reality, it is simply a repackaging of many old ideas, with an offering of the same old solutions.  Most of the book is spent describing the characteristics of the inner brat and helping the reader identify their own inner brat.  The last couple of chapters are focused on strategies for controlling the inner brat.

Wallin’s main theme is that we all have an “inner brat” which compels us toward narcissistic self-absorption.  She suggests that it is this “inner brat” that causes most people to be self-centered and behave with a sense of entitlement.  Although not a new idea, repackaging the ideas of Freud’s “Id,” Jung’s “Shadow” and/or Eric Berne’s “Child ego” into the construct of an “inner brat” does allow for a freshness of presentation that will probably be easier for non-professionals to digest.  For people already familiar with the constructs of these earlier theorists, this book offers little new insight into the workings of the self.  Wallin has over twenty years of experience as a clinical psychologist and with this book she presents how she describes and explains self-defeating behavior to her clients.  She covers familiar ground describing how to identify the inner brat by investigating irrational assumptions and cognitive distortions (i.e., Ellis and Beck).  She follows by revisiting the concept of willpower and the difficulties in exercising restraint over our impulses.  Although she does mention that there are alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous when dealing with addiction, she does inject the AA mantra at the end of chapter 11 with the “Serenity Prayer.”  Her solutions to controlling the inner brat also do not reveal any new insights, as she sounds like any grandmother when she suggests, “get plenty of sleep,” “try to minimize stress,” and “avoid alcohol and stimulants.” 

Wallin truly loses me when she suggests, “give your inner brat a name.”  She suggests that the purpose of this is to designate it as something separate from your true self, thereby making it easier to deal with effectively.  Throughout the book, she has separated the self from the inner brat, and with this conceptualization she is again perpetuating the arrogant assumption that people often hold that they are not the problem, but it is so and so, or my inner brat.  I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that this is constructive.  You are your inner brat, and your inner brat is you.  You are your impulses.  They do not come from someone or somewhere else.   You are selfish, self-centered, egotistical and narcissistic, as are we all.  Lets face the facts and stop playing games with ourselves.  Only when one truly understands and knows self will one be able to move toward self-actualization.  So, the question really is “How does one know self?” rather than “How does one control self?”         

 

© 2002 Kendell C. Thornton

 

Kendell C. Thornton, Ph.D. is currently an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Dowling College, Long Island, NY. He earned his B.S. in Psychology from the University of Idaho, M.S. in Social Psychology from the University of Montana, and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Kansas. His current research interests include interpersonal relationships, with a focus on emotions, motivations, and self-concept.