Cover of Existential Kink.

Existential Kink

author: Carolyn Elliott
date read: 2020-07-17
pages: 220
lists: nonfiction , personal-development
rating: β˜… β˜… β˜… β˜… β˜…

First off, a caveat: I do not recommend this book, and I can’t say that it was a particularly good book. The five-star rating is due to the fact that it was tremendously helpful to me personally, and was the right book at the right time.

Here’s the premise of Existential Kink: Have you considered that you’re into it?

That’s basically the book’s answer to everything, particularly about things you dislike. If you’re in a situation that you dislike: Are you sure that some part of you isn’t enjoying the complaining, the struggle, the position you put yourself in?

It exists in an interesting intersection. It accepts the premises on shame and vulnerability by Brene Brown, and possibly explains the self-determination parts of Courage to be Disliked better than that book did, and then, gleefully, suggests that maybe you should lean the fuck in.

This is what is good about the book: It makes its point very clearly, repeatedly, and in a way that will allow you to apply it confidently. It includes a variety of strategies and methods of applying it. And, most notably, it includes a chapter detailing when not to apply this method, eg when you’re depressed, when your issues are not structural, or when the problem is still very raw. I want every self-help author to be forced to include explicit notes on when their wondrously perfect new healing method does not work.

This is what is less good: The writing – wow, this book could’ve used an editor. It gets progressively better, but the beginning is a struggle of empty phrases. Then: the assumptions. To read this book, you either have to be into new wiccan woo (which I am not), or be willing to deal with the occasional occult content, either by skipping it, or by being amused, or by figuring out what the author is pointing at. All of these work, but only if you’re willing to take the good parts and ignore the rest.

For me personally, the book has triggered several very helpful revelations that have had immediate practical use, and has expanded my knowledge of meditation/reflection techniques, including adding several books in that direction to my reading list.

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