Foreword Reviews

Motifs of Life Altering Experiences

Presence of Unwitting Synchronizations in Times of Trauma and Triumph

Clarion Rating: 4 out of 5

Motifs of Life Altering Experiences is a surprising self-help work centered on navigating life’s unpredictability.

Don J. Feeney’s Motifs of Life Altering Experiences is fresh in its perspective of overcoming tragedy and trauma. Made up of intriguing examples and in-depth observations, the book aims to capture the significance of day-to-day moments, which it says can have a tremendous impact on people’s ultimate experiences of life.

With a long and successful career in clinical psychology, Feeney brings his expert insight from working with different types of therapy to each of the text’s concepts, including hypnosis and neurolinguistic programming. What results is a multifaceted work that’s focused more on how random chance can influence or change people’s lives, for better or worse. Feeney emphasizes his own unique approach—that of “motifs,” an almost collage-like collection of seemingly insignificant moments. When people start to pay attention to these motifs, he argues, they can begin to understand the underlying reasons for specific events, thereby encouraging a path to healing.

Such life-altering events include everything from birth to adolescence, adulthood, and beyond. From this perspective, life-altering experiences are those that shake people to their very cores, and make them question their very identities. The ultimate goal is not just to recover from such experiences, but to transform, using a “meaningful set of perspectives and frameworks from which a unique sense of self mastery and transformation may emerge.” From this perspective, honoring one’s innermost self and genuine desires makes it easier to avoid unhealthy or traumatic experiences.

Those familiar with clinical psychology and its many theoretical variants will feel at home with Feeney’s writing style, which is scholarly and meticulous down to the very last detail. For others, the text may feel overwhelming because of its many industry-heavy references and scientific phrases. Despite the complexity of the text, there is a dynamic and intriguing theme throughout that is hard to ignore. Feeney describes the objective randomness of life in somewhat mathematical terms while also touching on the sheer miraculousness of human consciousness. There is also a surprising tone of the mystical; for all of the book’s straightforward nods to science and knowledge, there are frequent allusions to the unknown and unexplained, especially when it describes the wide array of inherent differences in human personalities.

The book takes an almost radical approach to self-help that feels compelling enough to take seriously based on Feeney’s authority within his field. The extensive bibliography centers the work in careful research, and the book holds attention because of how peculiar it is; it breaks down such normal occurrences as sipping coffee or tripping on your way to a fruit stand to make its points, analyzing each action to determine how a person’s conscious and subconscious motivations influenced final outcomes or events. This approach inspires questions about the choices that people make on a daily basis.

Motifs of Life Altering Experiences is a surprising self-help work centered on navigating life’s unpredictability.

Reviewed by Tara Mcnabb

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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