Matters of the Heart
Ruth Cherry, PhD
Reviewed by: Mihir Shah, The US Review of Books
“She didn’t present them with any needs…. If the world (as interpreted by her parents) couldn’t handle her needs, she just wouldn’t have any.”
Often, teachers gain just as much valuable insight from their pupils as they impart to them. Cherry’s experience is no different as she weaves her own experiences and upbringing with that of her clients to help readers ultimately understand the power of one’s inner spirit and the art of listening to that inner voice. At its core, the text presents a duality of how one should be the Controller as well as the inner child who, despite being obedient and doing “what’s right,” constantly gnaws at one’s desire and goals and delivers a feeling as though something is missing.
From a faith-based context, Cherry discusses how many of her clients “longed to be good.” Injecting humor into her work, she even uses her experience at a Catholic girls’ school to delve into the notion that the ultimate person to please was God. As such, the biblical phrase “treat others as you want to be treated” didn’t apply to boys because they were male. In many ways, the idea of the Controller is reminiscent of classic Big Brother, an undoubtedly Orwellian tactic to control one’s feelings and fantasies through discipline or the threat of eternal damnation. The text, however, suggests that in this attempt at living the right way and being approved by society, humanity is making a futile attempt at living full, wholesome lives where they take pride in themselves and practice self-love.
Part of what makes Cherry’s text compelling is her ability to provide relatable content and actionable, interactive exercises for her readers to benefit directly. Specifically, the breathing exercises she recommends and continues to develop throughout the work allow audiences to slow down, feel their own breath, and truly become cognizant of their innermost thoughts, the child that is pounding away, faintly, trying to get the individual’s attention diverted from the Controller. Like float therapy, the exercises promote sensory deprivation, an opportunity to experience release from the outer world.
On the one hand, Cherry provides a commentary from the scientific and psychological perspectives, discussing the differentiation between subpersonalities and split personality. On the other hand, she simultaneously provides numerous client case studies. In one instance, she uses imagery to transport a client, Kate, to her childhood, helping her understand why she wasn’t more of a risk-taker and falling short in her desire to be a better leader. In the process, she identifies subpersonalities of the Witch and Judge and unpacks the moment when Kate first embraces complete obedience to an external authority. Interestingly, the subpersonalities are like children. They can grow and be molded into anything based on how they’re nourished/ However, if that growth stalls, then those subpersonalities will be stuck and be perpetuated throughout the various stages of the lifespan. In other words, if the healing of subpersonalities has not occurred, then whether it’s frustration or a belief that one deserves to suffer, change will not happen.
From the Victim and the Victimizer to Earth Mother and Dutiful Daughter, Cherry provides a scintillating snapshot to her clients of how and why they’re mired in the dissatisfaction and sorrows of their life, whether that’s suffering from alcoholism, being comfortable in depression, or doing everything right and fulfilling all responsibilities to no end. More than anything else, the focal point of Cherry’s work is on visualizations to help audiences tap into and listen to their unconscious mind en route to disabling and eradicating long-held beliefs. Clear-cut and engaging, the narrative shows Cherry’s knack for connecting to audiences with case studies and examples. It highlights concepts laden with complexities in an easily comprehensible manner, rendering her work a highly recommended, meaningful, and introspective experience for all audiences.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review