Living on Automatic: How Emotional Conditioning Shapes Our Lives and Relationships

By Homer B. Martin and Christine B.L. Adams. Praeger, 2018. 187 pages. $37/hardcover or eBook.

Quaker doctor Christine B.L. Adams co-authored this book as a way for lay people to gain insight into automatic responses that are unhelpful in daily life and especially in relationships. It is wise to gain awareness about the responses that we make from deep places of conditioning. We are often unaware of the process until it is motion, and has produced behaviors that hurt our relationships and self-image, making healing more difficult to begin and sustain. There are many ways to gain awareness and enter healing processes; Dr. Adams offers this clinical approach based on her years of practice.

The first part is called “Understanding Emotional Conditioning,” which is indeed necessary to make lasting changes. The second part is wisely focused on what can go wrong and become serious, damaging conflict in relationships. It is called “Relationship Struggles: Miscommunications and Marriages.” There is also a chapter on being single again after a divorce. The final section covers solutions, including psychotherapy for deconditioning and what individuals can do to decrease use of automatic, conditioned responses. This book does not cover other relationships such as parenting, friendship, or those in the workplace. At the end of the book, there is a suggested reading list and an index.

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