by Bill Plotkin
(New World Library, 2008, $17.95)

Psychologist Bill Plotkin estimates that half the people in the US are stuck in egocentric forms of adolescence — and that contemporary culture encourages such pathology. Writes Plotkin: “The egocentric standard for a healthy, full-functioning ‘adult’ in Western society is a socially popular Conformist, who earns a lot and buys a lot, is religious (but not spiritual), is uncritically loyal to her country.” Such people are easy to control, and they contribute unsparingly to the GNP. Unfortunately, the soul and its seekings are cut adrift, branded “immature” or inconvenient — a midlife crisis or an adolescent rebellion. Life is lived apart from nature and its currents, allowing us to destroy the planet that sustains us.

Plotkin is convincing in his critique of Western society, and he is priceless in his discussions about how to combat its deadening influences. Parents owe it to their kids to read this eye-opener, but anyone can benefit, no matter how old your soul or body. Don’t fear a diatribe: Plotkin is a good example of how to merge critical analysis with respect for people’s individual experiences and stages.

It’s become common to hear that our culture is adolescent and self-numbing. This book provides a road map to a fulfilling adulthood and to a citizenry committed to living in concert with nature. It can’t happen fast enough.

– Linnea Due (reprinted from Terrain,