All reviews by Anna Christie. See our Books page for an annotated list of books we recommend.
“Cure Your Emetophobia And Thrive”
First of all, I’d like to say that we can all learn something from just about anyone if we set our minds to it. This book was no exception. I also did not find anything in the book that was joltingly wrong or untrue although there were a few things I really hated.
– despite being self-published, the book is well-written and easy to understand. The author can write, and the copy (although not necessarily the content) was well-edited.
– a good overview of cognitive therapy generally and how it is used to help clients working to overcome phobias
– a good general working knowledge of emetophobia
– self-empowering (“This anxiety is not happening to me. I am creating it myself. I can calm myself down. I can do this.”)
– general optimism about being able to overcome the phobia.
– I liked this line: “Emetophobes are not afraid of ‘it’ – they’re afraid of their huge, catastrophic, emotionally over-the-top reaction to ‘it’.”
– he’s quite right that the way you think is extremely unhelpful, and probably inaccurate as well. All thoughts should be tested for accuracy and helpfulness. (For example, does the thought “what if I catch it and get sick?” help you in any way, shape or form?)
– changing the thought “vomiting is horrible/awful/terrible” to “vomiting is a little unpleasant” to “I could cope with vomiting” is the key to recovery (agreed!)
– at around $35, the book is pretty accessible to just about anyone. If you don’t get anything out of it at all (which would be unusual) you haven’t spent much. Some “cure” programs on the internet are as high as $3000.
– The title. A phobia is not a disease hence there is no “cure.” Phobias are a firing of the panic systems of our brains, when something which once caused us great distress (usually in childhood) is triggered. We learned to be afraid. Avoidance keeps us afraid. Learning to think differently about vomiting and to respond differently by slow breathing, relaxing major muscle groups, etc. if practiced a great deal will end the panic response almost completely. A “cure” is a something like an antibiotic for pneumonia or surgery for appendicitis where the sufferer doesn’t have to do any work at all.
– The author appears to have no proper credentials, despite the fact he claims to be a psychotherapist. I Googled him at great length and did not find any degree or diploma that he has. He has “attended” an online university in the U.K. but doesn’t say he ever graduated.
– the book is self-published. Probably because of the point above. Publishers don’t print books written by people with no proper credentials. This calls into question all sorts of ethical issues when he speaks of his own clients, how well they’ve done, what they’ve said, etc. My ethical guidelines as a registered therapist, for instance, prohibits me from even asking a client, current or previous, for a “testimony.” He claims to have done “studies” but clearly didn’t use a random sample nor a control group. Nothing about his study suggests there was a “double-blind” aspect to it, nor were variables controlled. Anyone with a doctorate would have known better. The subtitle suggests it is “research based” but while he quotes numerous scientific studies (and footnotes them), his interpretation of the facts in these studies is often just finding a way to justify what he already believes to be true.
– each chapter contains a part of his theory such as “coping styles”, “locus of control”, etc. and the author puts in a questionnaire for the reader to evaluate his or her ____ (fill in the blank). The problem is that the questionnaires fail scientific tests for validity and reliability. Again, if the author had a Masters or Doctorate he would not be creating little questionnaires like these with no proof that they actually reflect what he’s trying to prove or hold up as being reliable across a variety of participants. So if you’re working through the book, don’t put too much stock in the “type” of whatever you turned out to be on his questionnaire. You might not be that type at all. For example, he seems quite anti-religion (without knowing anything about it). So if you’re religious he will throw you in the same category with people who believe if you spill salt you must throw it over your shoulder or terrible things will happen to you. While this is true for some religious folks in some of the major world religions, it is not universal and it is quite offensive that he has deemed it so.
– the book is a bit over-simplified, and it doesn’t help that the author allegedly has people “cured” of the phobia in 2 weeks time. By this I mean that the average emetophobe may become very discouraged when s/he doesn’t see the same results. Example: “Tell yourself you are capable of tolerating any feelings of discomfort without resorting to avoidance.” Easy for him to say!
– Some of his theory comes dangerously close to “blame-the-victim.” For example he advocates saying “I am making myself ill/afraid.” He seems to believe this about physical illness as well. This can belittle, minimize and invalidate a person’s legitimate physical or psychological illness. Why did all these people get “cured” in 2 weeks and I’m no better? I must be a terrible failure!
– he believes there is “no such thing as addiction.” Glad I’m not reading his book on addiction and wondering why I can’t quit smoking in one day!
– he advocates that significant others say something like “I’m sorry you’re anxious but this is all about how you’re thinking. You can cope; you’re creating that anxiety and you can change it.” WOW. Talk about cold, thoughtless and unfeeling! Again, easy for him (and them) to say! There are such better ways for significant others to lend support.
– he uses Cognitive, but not Behavioural therapy techniques. While it might be good news to phobics that they don’t ever have to actually face anything they’re afraid of, no matter how slowly and gently they do it, the science doesn’t hold up. CBT has been proven in many many studies to be more effective, and for longer than cognitive therapy alone. Don’t forget “behavioural” work is not just gradual exposure. It’s learning how to breathe, how to relax, how to get back “into” your body again. While CBT for emetophobia does NOT mean you have to vomit, you can still benefit greatly by slowly stopping avoiding what you fear (for example, leaving the house without your “safety” kit).
– he claims all of his clients have the same personality types, yet I’ve never seen this in my own clients. People are as different as snowflakes. It’s their brain function that’s the same, and the same approach will work to correct that in most of them in a general sense but each person often needs a very tailored approach in a particular sense.
– the “Action” sections at the end of each chapter amount to little more than “stop doing/being like that.” But if you don’t know how to, you’re back at square one.
The book is far too long (350 pages), but that’s what happens when you don’t have an editor. I learned some things from Mr. Kelly and I appreciate that he wrote his experiences and theories down to try to help emetophobics. However, at this time there are now some excellent self-help books on the market written by properly trained and credentialed psychotherapists. Any of these is a much better investment. See our Books and Articles page.
“The Thrive Program”
The book is a very small investment, although it’s the last one that a person with emetophobia should buy. The program is very expensive on the other hand and we do not recommend it in the least. Some people have had good success because their consultant was a licensed psychotherapist in the first place, but unfortunately in the UK there is no regulation on who can claim to be a therapist. Many of the Thrive consultants are not, and have only the training by Mr. Kelly himself, who is an internet marketer with a high school education claiming to be a “therapist.”
“Emetophobia Recovery System”
Rich Presta is a layperson who once suffered from a debilitating phobia of driving coupled with general anxiety. As his wife is a psychologist and he an internet marketer, they developed three programs to recover from driving phobia, general anxiety and emetophobia. Rich is also the owner/admin of emetophobia.org, the largest online forum for emetophobia where I am a moderator. Rich contacted me to read through and listen to the program before he published it as well as recommend some psychologists he could interview and record for it. The program is under $100 and if it isn’t helpful he’s always been really great at returning your money.