The War Of Art by Pressfield
There are a few decent tips in this book, but in my view there is a ton of distorted thinking in this book, that will likely make people's problems with procrastination a lot worse.
He sets up a mental creation called "Resistance", and then basically labels this imaginary "thing" as literally Evil, like an evil twin to Santa Clause.
I guess this guy has never considered the idea, that to create things in your imagination, and then label them as Evil and trying to wreck your life might not be a good idea?
That is just a glorified version of self-hatred. If you split your Self in half, and then set up a War Of The Self, where is that going to get you?
He also states, "the more scared we are of a work, the more sure we can be that we have to do it". (notice the word HAVE TO DO IT. This is the very cognitive distortion which is likely creating his problem in the first place!)
In at least a couple a points in the book, he does mention things like his "self-destruction demons" and , "I felt if I crapped out this time I would have to hang myself". So he obviously has some serious issues here with some type of self-hatred, that has even driven him to contemplate suicide. I always am very loathe to follow the advice of writers who think its perhaps noble to blow your brains out if you can't write anymore. No thanks.
He also mentions he was in the Marines at some point, as some of this Dichotomous Thinking could have come from his military experiences, like Tom Peters. This guy is just full of black-or-white, absolutistic thinking, which CREATES the problem of procrastination in the first place!
He also gets into a bunch of stuff like "Angels" giving us our good ideas, and other highly dubious ideas like Jungian Ego stuff.
He then sets up a "war" between the Angels that live in the Self, and Resistance in the Ego. Then, "we demolish the Ego to get to the Self".
This is the precise type of thinking that CREATES procrastination, and makes it even worse! It can even go beyond that into self-hatred, and for some people they push themselves into such a mental prison and severe depression, they could move into suicidal ideation.
There are MANY other books that deal with procrastination out there, which are much more helpful, in my view.
But we do basically the opposite of what this guy is telling you to do.
You most certainly do not set up some supernatural war for your Soul inside of your imagination! This is going to create more stress, more misery, more self-downing, and even self-hatred.
There are much better, science based, and psychologically sound techniques out there. Very specific techniques and not platitudes, that can help a person to get over their procrastination and avoidance.
Perhaps I will post some info here about it.
But this book from my POV, is what you should NOT do if you are procrastinating. This could make it so much worse, that people could whip themselves into a frenzy of misery and self-hatred.
We would be wise to look at the scientific evidence from Cognitive Therapy, and learn how to ACCEPT ourselves, and learn how to overcome procrastination without turning all of this into some sort of bizarre supernatural cosmic war.
If Pressman wants to know where all these "little voices" are coming from in him, then why not read "Consciousness Explained" by the philosopher Dennett?
There are all sorts of plausible theories out there now for how the Mind works.
But there is none of this knowledge in this book. Zero.
The most recent thing I can see are Jung's ideas, and ideas going back into the Middle Ages.
There are hundreds of brilliant thinkers, psychologists, scientists, working on the problem of how the human mind works.
I would turn to them to understand what is going on, and not Angels vs. Devils.
I would not recommend this book to anyone.
There are much easier and psychologically sound ways to overcome procrastination.
This area is almost totally neglected by GTD, and I have often wondered why?
There is a mountain of great science based information about overcoming Avoidance and Procrastination. Why is the science almost completely ignored, I wonder?
I would say, if you want to make yourself even MORE miserable, and maybe even make your life a living hell, then do what he says in the book.
Split your Self concept into a Good part, and an Evil part that is trying to block you, and even destroy you. And then set up a WAR between them, and try to crush the evil part.
Then you might end up with severe depression, anxiety, raging, and even worse.
The urge to procrastinate is a NORMAL human impulse. Its not evil. If anything, it is very helpful, IN THE CONTEXT IT EVOLVED IN. The human psyche evolved to be conservative, as if you made an error in pre-history, then you could get killed out there. Its better to be safe than sorry.
But now this "safety button" gets pressed at the wrong times, and we become afraid of things that there is no real need to be afraid of. So we just need to retrain how our brain is processing this information about these stimuli. There are very SPECIFIC techniques to do this, that really work.
We can overcome our phobias, procrastinations, and avoidances, but not by doing what he says. In my view, its just going to make it worse.
Perhaps I will make a post about the specific techniques for overcoming procrastination from the cognitive therapies.
I am going to be blunt here. In my view this is one of the worst books a real procrastinator could ever read. It will just make it worse.
You can't FIGHT yourself. Who wants to make life into a daily war of the Self?
We need to understand the parts of the Self that are resistant, and then modify them through careful Cognitive Restructuring. But its obvious that Pressman has likely never even heard of these things.
Very strange book.
Last edited by CosmoGTD; 03-31-2006 at 12:02 PM.