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In Memoriam: John Bradshaw (1933-2016)

By       Message Thomas Farrell       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) May 20, 2016: On Sunday, May 8, 2016, the psychotherapist and best-selling author John Bradshaw died of heart failure at the age of 82 in Houston, the city in which he was born in 1933.

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On May 12, 2016, the New York Times published a lengthy obituary about him and his work by William Grimes: "John Bradshaw, Self-Help Evangelist, Dies at 82." He truly was a self-help evangelist.

From Bradshaw's high-school years onward for a number of years, he was an alcoholic. Eventually, he sought help for his drinking addiction. Gradually, he recovered from it. However, he was always careful to say that he was a recovering alcoholic. He became a psychotherapist, author, and host of television series on PBS. Bradshaw held three Master degrees: one in theology, one in philosophy, and one in psychology.

Disclosure: I have done what for me were graduate studies in philosophy (at Saint Louis University) and theology (at the University of Toronto), but I do not hold a Master's degree in either, nor in psychology. Except for a couple of undergraduate courses in psychology, I am mostly an autodidact in psychology. For example, I have enjoyed studying some of Bradshaw's books over the years. Unlike Bradshaw, I have not had the experience of being an alcoholic, nor the experience of working as a psychotherapist.

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In his last book Post-Romantic Stress Disorder: What to Do When the Honeymoon Is Over: New Discoveries about Lust, Love, and Saving Your Marriage before It's Too Late Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 2014), Bradshaw explains in detail Silvan Tomkins theory of the primacy of the affect system (pages 105-107).

Tomkins identifies nine innate affects (feelings), each of which Bradshaw lists and briefly describes:

"[1] Enjoyment/Joy: physically smiling, lips wide and out

"[2] Interest/Excitement: physically, eyebrows are down, eyes are tracking and looking, and there is closer interest

"[3] Surprise/Startle: physically, eyebrows are up and eyes are blinking

"[4] Anger/Rage: physically, the face is frowning and red, and the jaw is clenched

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"[5] Fear/Terror: physically, the face is pale with a frozen stare that exhibits coldness and sweating, and the hair may be erect

"[6] Shame/Humiliation: physically, the eyes are lowered, the head is down and averted, and the face may be blushing

"[7] Distress/Anguish: person is physically crying with rhythmic sobbing, eyebrows are arched, and the mouth is lowered

"[8] Dissmell (reaction to bad smell): physically, the upper lip is raised and the head is pulled back

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
 

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