Breaking Up Blues : A Guide to Survival and Growth book cover
1st Edition

Breaking Up Blues
A Guide to Survival and Growth

ISBN 9780415455473
Published May 14, 2008 by Routledge
296 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

We want to believe that break-up and divorce may be tough in the short term, but that time will heal all. But is it a dangerous myth? Breaking Up Blues presents evidence of the risks of remaining caught in bitter battle; of failing to learn from past difficulties; in refusing to mind; or becoming caught in self-hatred and despair. What looks like self-protection can turn out to be self-destructive.

Self-help books tell you not to fight – but not why battles are so addictive. They tell you to bin your baggage and be positive – but if that is all you do, you can’t have any memories of past good times, or of any joint achievements. They tell you to reach out and find someone new – but not until you’ve done the emotional work can you risk being open to a new partner. Nor do they remind you of the threat to self-esteem of brief flings.

Break-up and divorce can also offer an opportunity for growth – whether originally looked for, or not. You need to find your resources (including how to manage feelings of panic, loneliness, guilt and grief) and re-find your self-worth. Abraham Lincoln said that "sucess in life consists of moving from one failure to another without losing enthusiasm". This book shows you how.

Table of Contents

Part I: Prelude to Break Up. Introduction. Should You Leave? Should You Stay? Being Left. Part II: The Trauma of Break-up. Loss. Rage. Legal Battles. Refusing to Mind. Depression. Part III: Toolkits. Emergency Toolkit. Part IV: Emotional Toolkit. Letting Go of Hatred. Facing Your Part. Acceptance – and Mourning. Part V: Children. Noticing Children’s Distress. Evidence of Impact on Children. Parenting After Break-up. Part VI: A Wider Focus. Roadmap of the Unconscious. Problems of Intimacy. Different Developmental Tasks of Boys and Girls. Stress and Stages of Life. Part VII: The Future. A New Partner? Moving On. Appendix.

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Denise Cullington is a psychoanalyst living and working in Oxford. She trained at the Institute of Psychoanalysis; the Tavistock Clinic, London; and as a Clinical Psychologist.


"...a wise, honest and knowledgeable guide for men and women contemplating divorce...Highly recommended." - Judith Wallerstein PhD, author of The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce

"...a much needed book on an important topic." - Steve Biddulph

"A wise and practical book for managing heartbreak and change." – Dorothy Rowe 

"I wish this book had been available during my first marriage, as the advice it contains would have saved me a bit of subsequent heartache. Denise Cullington doesn’t just provide a guide to making break-up as painless as possible – she explores every aspect of relationships, both good and bad. If you are in an unsatisfactory relationship – or if you’ve already broken up and you’re unhappy about it – then this book will not only make you feel better, it will help you avoid making the same mistakes again."Jonathan Self 

"With immense psychological insight the Author draws on her own experience and on her clinical work to examine every aspect of so painful a process as breaking up.  It is unique in its combination of depth and accessibility.  It deserves to be a classic."Margot Waddell, Psychoanalyst and Consultant Child Psychotherapist

" excellent new book on surviving divorce..." - Bel Mooney, Daily Mail

"'s to Denise Cullington's credit that she has authored such a useful book brimming with a very wise sense of recognition of what it is to be human..." - Anthony Cantle

"Seldom have I read a self-help book that has been so sensitive and empathetic, yet so challenging and constructive. Many of those who come to therapists for consultation have serious relationship difficulties; therefore I feel this book is useful for counsellors and psychotherapists and I would not hesitate to recommend it to clients." - Jenny Bloomer, Therapy Today, October, 2008

"brimming with a very wise recognition of what it is to be human ... this is a book that lives and breathes for ... those looking for practical help in the middle of marital disarray ... a beacon of understanding at what are often some very dark moments . jargon-free." - Anthony Cantle, British Journal of Psychotherapy

"compelling authority and depth that grabs the attention of the reader from the outset. hugely helpful... it left me feeling hopeful." - Christopher Vincent, British Journal of Family Therapy

"rich psychological insights are expressed in a refreshingly direct and accessible way." - Journal of Analytical Psychology 

"The author teases out all the tangled threads of feeling, and once disentangled they seem less frightening, enabling the overwhelmed confused person to feel that he/she is a sane person who is upset and caught up in a process, rather than a crazy person who is trapped and not understood. I wish I'd had your book thirty years ago."Dr Gill Flower, review

"She writes with a kind of controlled urgency... The book never talks down to the reader: its talkative register, and a complete absence of evasiveness in the advice,  means that the person addressing you may be terse, funny, sometimes brusque – but can be trusted... It's actually really, really good..." - Jim Pye, Oxford Psychotherapy Society Bulletin