Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Surrounded By Energy Vampires

 A book review. So today I finished a book by Thomas Erikson, a Swedish author, called Surrounded by Energy Vampires, which is a part of a series. I read it in Dutch so there won't be any direct quotes, you'll have to believe me:)

Normally I don't buy and/or read modern secular popular psychology/self-help books, but I made an exception for this one; first, because of the name (some people do drain your energy) and, second, because one of the chapters deals with narcissists (if you ever have been a victim of them, you'll understand). 

So what can I say? My general impression of the book is positive. There were things which I liked/found helpful, but also some things I didn't particularly care for.

The book is well-written and quite engaging and I managed to finish it in 4 days (!). It discusses different types of so-called "energy vampires", i.e. people who emotionally drain and manipulate you and gives you some advice on how to deal with them. In doing so, the author uses DISC model, an international model which divides people into 4 basic types represented by 4 colours (red, yellow, green and blue) or some combination of the above, dependent on whether they are intro- or extrovert and relationships or  objects-oriented.

 The main problem for me was that this book's target audience are office workers. It goes into detail about modern office politics and all the drama it creates, which made me very happy that, thank Heaven, I don't have to deal with any of it. To be fair, Erikson also gives examples from normal daily/family life and mentions other occupations besides "middle manager", albeit briefly. But never a housewife:) In fact, they don't at all exist in his universe and he several times goes out of the way to make his book as unis8x as possible, including such  examples as a genius IT lady and men making breakfasts for their families before going out to work (must be normal in Sweden). It's also secular and the existence of higher powers is only mentioned once and rather skeptically at that.

 That said, he isn't entirely politically correct, or in any case, less than I expected which is quite refreshing. He does mention that men and women can differ in displaying certain character qualities and does hint that certain "energy vampire" types are more common for males or vice versa. 

Some of the author's observations are very interesting, e.g. when he claims that our society sees being extrovert as a virtue in itself and encourages everyone to behave accordingly and be constantly "on the move"/ run around instead of sitting quietly at home, or that it rewards "victim mentality" and thus creates more people who are proud to have victim status. 

I also liked his suggestion to punish a teenager who passively-aggressively shirks doing domestic chores by doubling the amount of work and supervising him doing it. I mean, I know enough mothers whose teenagers have no domestic duties at all and the thought of punishing them by making them actually do something at home would horrify them, even "the good Christian conservative types", so I was amused when a liberal Swedish feminist guy suggested it. 

When dealing with bullies Erikson mentions how the society nowadays likes to present them as the victims (they were abused by parents, had a difficult youth etc) but the reality is quite different: they are toxic sociopaths who get a kick out of abusing those below them on the social ladder and should be avoided at all costs. He gives the same advice about narcissists and adds that they can't be changed (though I'm not sure I agree they were born that way) so the best thing to do is to avoid them. He also points out that modern "cancel culture" is wholly driven by narcissists who pretend to be holier-than-thou but in reality, are nasty, evil individuals.

On the other hand, when one has a difficult (marriage) partner, his advice is not to right away run to a nearby divorce court but rather to try and fight for your relationship, which, again, is quite refreshing in the times of easy divorce.

The chapter which I found particularly helpful was the one about the news and social media. Erikson gives some interesting info: 90% of all news is negative and is designed to be so to trigger you and keep you in the constant state of stress. He recommends news/media fast of 30 days to try and find out if you are feeling any better and claims that his quality of life has improved considerably after quitting following news cold turkey several years ago. He also warns about the dangers of (excessive) social media use and the general unpleasantness of having to deal with "smartphone zombies" at the dinner table etc. 

Go out and help your neighbour instead, he recommends and I agree wholeheartedly.

He also gives some tips on how to avoid procrastination which are quite helpful. And then, his last advice: remember that you can't really change other people or to avoid all irritating types altogether. The only person you can really change is yourself. Change your attitude to life and others and you'll feel better.

I'd say "amen" to that.

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