Monday, July 2, 2012

Why normal people do some crazy things: Nine fundamentals of human behaviors

Why normal people do some crazy things: Nine fundamentals of human behaviors
By Kevin Davis

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II
The first thing that concerned me when I began this book was where the “nine fundamentals of human behaviors” originated.  I searched the back of the book for notes, sources, or a bibliography and found none.  I looked at the back of each chapter and even at the bottom of pages throughout the book and found none.  I checked within paragraphs to see if citations were included, and I found none.

Then I found the answer.  Davis says, “I wrote this book to share some of my perspectives about why people behave the way they do.  I call these broad categories of motivations that underlie people’s actions, ‘Fundamentals’ of human behavior” (p. 5).

These are Davis’s perceptions that “gelled over time as I worked with clients” (p. 5).  “In developing these Fundamentals, I attempted to categorize large variations of human behavior into simplified, understandable and usable concepts” (p. 5).

Davis’s nine fundamentals are: 1) “Everyone is terrified and therefore unreliable...until they’re not,” 2) “No one wants you to succeed too well or fail too badly,” 3) “Genuine interest in and attention to others is a rare commodity,” 4) “Most relationships, and their recurring problems, are based on power dynamics,” 5) “Everyone is rushing toward the white picket fence,” 6) “The Immature Masculine tries to run from or dominate the Feminine,” 7) Everyone points the finger,” 8) “We all have multiple personalities,” and 9) We are all addicted to intensity.”

“Ultimately,” Davis writes, “these Fundamentals are ‘one man’s opinion’ and they are intended to serve as a starting point for discussion” (p. 7).  Discussion starters.  The problem, as I see it (and this is just one man’s opinion!), is that there are no sources to support these fundamentals.  Why couldn’t the author expand readers’ perspectives, reading opportunities, and research possibilities with “further reading”suggestions?

The answer could lie in one element: The author only has an M.A.  He has not researched his own ideas.  He has no fundamental knowledge base except his own.  Throughout the book, to support this possibility, he includes shaded boxes labeled “Author’s personal experience,”  “From actual conversation,” “Excerpt from coaching session,” and “From actual event.”  These are his sources.  I wonder if Davis has ever considered the fact that single instances, no matter how significant they may seem, do not prove a point, and, too, can be slanted in any direction to make or prove a point!  They are not—by any stretch of the imagination—evidence!

Now, I want it to be clear that this is not an indictment of the book.  After all, Davis admits what he has done.  Further, he is not asking readers to accept his fundamentals as fact, truth, proven points, or validated conclusions.  He is presenting them as discussable issues.  They are designed simply to promote discussion.  And, certainly, with that in mind, they may well serve that purpose.

My issue with the fundamentals is simply that for any reader who has done any significant amount reading (or has a significant amount of life experience) will find Davis’s “fundamentals” as common knowledge.  How do you discuss ideas that are fairly commonly accepted behaviors?

With all of this said, Davis is a fairly good writer, has a sense of humor, and offers a variety of interesting examples.  If you are just looking for an enjoyable book that may keep your interest for a couple of hours, this is a worthwhile purchase.  If you are looking for deep thinking, well-researched ideas, or insights that you won’t find in numerous other places, this book won’t help you at all.  Davis, however, offers practical information that has the potential to remind you of a variety of interesting insights that may or may not offer you useful ways to look at daily behavior.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Essays, SMOERs Words-of-Wisdom, Fridays Laugh, book reviews... And Then Some! Thank you for your comment.