PRODUCT (Book)F*CK FEELINGS:  One Shrink’s Practical Advice for Managing All Life’s Impossible Problems

Authors:  Michael I. Bennett, MD & Sarah Bennett

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster [2015]


When I was growing up on the Hawaiian island of Molokai in the early 1950’s, there were two pineapple plantations still going strong:  Del Monte (California Packing Corporation) at Kualapu’u and Libby McNeill at Maunaloa – small isolated communities in the western hills of the island.

World War II had recently ended.  Hawaii was still a territory of the United States of America.  The “plantation camps” – collections of aging, ticky-tacky worker housing – were owned by these corporations.  The workers lived surrounded by the fields where they worked.

The mindset among the people in that place was even smaller and more limited than “small-town” or even “village.”  It was like growing up in a large extended family with all the same rivalries, alliances and hierarchies.

Interactions between people in the camps were multi-layered and sometimes intense.  Often there were insurmountable inequities. For many people life was hard.  Despite it all, however, almost everybody agreed that life was good.

‘As how,” (that’s the way it is), they would tell each other when bad luck struck.  It was a given that this neighbor would help and that one would turn away (or maybe even snicker.)

The faults and flaws of individuals were recognized, acknowledged and mostly accepted.  When everybody’s busy trying to make ends meet, little time can be spared for trying to improve how other people walk.

“Enduring” what could not be changed in life, in others, and in yourself was a life-stance.  People got along – or not – as best they could.

Many of the people in the camp were from my grandparents’ generation.  They remembered coming from places where life was much harsher.

They had already made the Big Change:  they had given up everything they knew to come to a foreign place where all the rules were different and “culture” became a thing they made up for themselves along with all the folks around them who were also mostly from other places.

Life was “better.”  Whatever challenges and obstacles they encountered in the camps were still “not bad” when compared to the trouble they had left behind.  They knew the odds were good that the lives of their children and their grandchildren would be better than theirs had been in the old place.

In all the hard there was time enough and space to laugh and sing, to notice and appreciate beauty, and to dream.  There was room to cherish each other, to honor the ones who helped smooth the rough places and to forgive the ones who could not.


I grew up in that mindset.  Maybe that’s why I’ve always been fascinated (and confused) by the world according to people who write self-actualization and self-help books.  In their worlds, any problem or challenge or obstacle can be and should be resolved.  “Closure” can be achieved.

All you have to do is build up your willpower and determination and attack the thing with all your might until it falls down in abject surrender to you, the Master Blaster.  If you put enough effort into this exercise or that method or the other technique and pass on through every obstacle and challenge, then WHAMMO! you can win through to happiness and all good things.

They assure you that it is imperative that you “fix” this issue or that one so you can find “closure” and then you can get ON with your life.  Uh-huh….


I have slogged through acres of bookshelves full of those books.  Finally there comes one that tells you that Life is really a LOT bigger than you.  There are many problems you will never fix.  There are many issues for which “closure” is impossible.  And it only matters if you choose to believe that it does.

It seems to me that this witty and practical book, F*CK FEELINGS, can help you make useful and sustainable life choices that make sense to you.

It was written with great warmth and humor by a Harvard-educated, medically trained practicing psychiatrist with over 40 years of clinical experience together with his daughter who spent years writing sketch comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York.

In the introduction, the authors say they aim at helping their readers accept that (a) life is hard, and (b) the reader’s frustrated efforts in trying to deal with assorted serious life problems are a valuable guide to identifying what cannot be changed.

Once the reader has that one down, the authors detail sensible, positive and possibly effective suggestions for managing this stuff that can’t be changed.

The authors do this by breaking down their advice for dealing with each major self-help issue (self-improvement, self-esteem, fairness, helpfulness, serenity, communication, parenthood, and the assholes in your life) into three parts:

  • What you wish for and can’t have (all the unrealistic wishes and hopes people have about “fixing” an issue),
  • What you can aim for and actually achieve,
  • How you can do it.

There are examples and scenarios of each of the major issues and explanations of how and why what you wish for probably won’t happen.  There are reality-check moments and stories about how the more practical suggestions may play out (or glitch up).  All of it is very down-to-earth and the commentary feels real.

There’s also a bonus chapter about when and how to find appropriate medical treatment for a problem and how to decide when it’s time to stop.


This book has been like a breath of fresh air to me.  It is a good reminder that there’s no such thing as “fair,” that feelings are mostly stupid, and that life is hard on everybody.

Still, as the authors point out, you can be relatively “okay,” no matter what, if your goals and how you reach for them are appropriate for the problem you are facing.

The good doctor’s suggestions, more likely than not, have a good chance at helping you decide which moves are effective.  He tells you that if you can manage to stay human despite your own inner demons, that is good enough.

I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to read the thoughts of someone who apparently does not believe that he is God’s gift to the wretched.  I think you will too.



Picture:  Sunrise at Koki Beach by Tim Szlachetka via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):   A disinclination to keep looking for evidence of all the ways your life is hard.  [There really is no point in counting all the ways you suffer because they are endless and the list will turn you into a bitter thing filled to the brim with resentment.  Counting your blessings on the other hand….]

Here’s another poem:


She’s found compassion.

It was lying there among

The instruments of pain

And torturous circumstance,

Amid the detritus she has uncovered in

The excavation she is making of her ancestral past.


She’s found compassion for

The bits of humanity that beget her,

And it’s made her face and body human-soft and warm.

The heavy-hard no longer presses now.

She’s lost the strain of pulling such a heavy load –

A wagon train of recrimination and regret.


The why-me has evaporated

Leaving an evanescent residue.

She’s even put up that brilliant sword she wields so handily.

Now the light shines in her

And it’s the beauty of Kwan Yin

Glowing through her.


Gone the marks of a mortal soul

Battered by the exigencies and

Actions of other mortals

Slogging through this world of dust,

As she climbs back on her immortal steed

And takes off, into the endless sky.


She’s made it back into the Infinite Game,

The one that pulses underneath

The boundaries of Time.

She’s flying back to the Real now,

And it’s a glorious thing to see.

You go, girl….

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  via



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10 thoughts on “REVIEW: F*CK FEELINGS

  1. RBwebsites says:

    This book F*ck Feelings is a very enjoyable book I say this because I have enjoyed reading this book because I own it. Its very centered on bringing information about social and mental problems that can apply to many things from work to business its a very informational and interesting book and I do suggest this as well.

    1. Hey R…thank you for the visit and the comment. Please come again….

  2. Andrea Sivani says:

    I had never actually heard of this book before but the title alone makes me feel its going to be an interesting read. I think a lot of us get stuck on the “closure” thing, we feel we can’t move forward until we achieve it so its definitely something worth looking into. I personally believe that closure needs to come from within and not be seeked in the situation itself so it’ll be interesting to read about what this book says in regards to that.

    1. Hey Andrea…

      Thanks for the visit and the comments. I do agree with you that the closure is within you and not because of some outside situation. Please come again….

  3. Hollie Rose says:

    Wow, your childhood sounds fascinating. Sometimes I wish I grew up in a small place where everybody was like family. I grew up in London where we often don’t know who lives down the road from us. However, every place has its fair share of hardships. 

    I’d love to read the book, it sounds like it puts life into perspective. So often we think life should be a fairy tale and that’s where it all goes wrong. Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Hollie Rose.  I do appreciate it.  

      The book is a grounding sort of read, indeed!  Try it…bet you’ll like it!

      Please do come again.

  4. Hi Netta,

    OMG! What a chance find! Your website is the first book review site I have come across written by a poet. I loved your review of F*ck Feelings! I was moved enough to hunt your post for the link so that I could purchase it. I did find it; I don’t give up easily! 

    The link took me to Amazon US. I switched to Amazon UK and purchased the Kindle version. I hope Amazon still tracked me, and that you get your commission. 

    I have bookmarked your website as I’d love to submit to your Guest Poet Portal. I have been writing poems on and off all my life, since my teens. Many of my poems are now just memories. Too many moves.

    Many thanks,

    1. Welcome, Paul!  Thanks for the visit and for your enthusiasm.  I look forward to your poetry submission.  Cool!

      Please do come again….

  5. Small communities or as you have explained, these bigger families, are a unique experience growing up. Yeah, everybody struggles. But help is also something people take for sure inside these communities. 

    It teaches us so many things about life. It’s so different growing in a big city. People are not as grateful towards others.

    1. Welcome back, Abel.  I do agree that growing up with a strong and caring network of people who are always in your business and poking at you can be a wonderful foundation and jumping-off place for a person.  (It can also become a stifling situation that can lead to acute claustrophobia, but that’s another story.)

      I’m not so sure that growing up and/or just living in a big city necessarily means that you are less likely to have access to that kind of a connective web.  A lot depends on the choices you and the people around you make, what you pay attention to, and how you deal with it all. 

      And it does seem to me that like everything else in life, if you didn’t grow up inside a network like that (as long as you are still on this planet) there will always be the potential for developing your own kind of supportive network wherever you are.   

      Heck, there are at least seven billion other souls on this here planet, and it’s not likely that all of them are dork-heads.  Those are my thoughts on it, anyway.

      Please do come again.

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