Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, March 26, 2018 Under: Book Reviews
This is a very interesting and surprisingly entertaining self-help book, by an articulate and highly qualified author. Dr. Fish is not, as you might think from reading this book, a psychology professional, but, instead, a music industry one. Still, if reading this book assured me of one thing, it is that he more than possesses the credentials to write it. The book is touted as a “stage-fright solution”, and it certainly does offer this, but I feel a more appropriate title for this book would have been “A Brief Introduction to Mindfulness, Using Stage Fright as an Example”. Mindfulness features incredibly heavily in this book, and is, in fact, the basis of the entire solution, and the core of David’s whole approach. Alternative methods are presented, later in the book, but they are set up to fail miserably in comparison to mindfulness. Still, the focus on mindfulness, in my opinion, is no bad thing: obviously, it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of any self-help method, without having put it into practice; as somebody quite acquainted with the concept, I would argue that it certainly does seem, comprehensively and organically, the most effective of these solutions, and I in no way felt that David was fudging his observations. He instils faith in his plausible method, his inspirational charisma makes you believe in it, and it becomes very difficult to disagree with the abundant good points he makes.
Although David is a stage-fright professional, his mindfulness technique is apparently pretty generic, and its scope much broader; due to his background, he has chosen to pigeonhole it for this book. The long questionnaire in the book’s middle may initially seem a little frivolous, but as you work through it, it does start to emerge as his cleverly directing you to structure your mindfulness approach. This separates the book’s two halves, the second of which is presented as a “Bonus Section”, and is primarily additional material on performance anxiety generally. It leans toward motivational pep, and does tend to repeat, a touch, much of the first half material. Yet this section, in some respects, is actually wherein lies the real substance of the book. While the entire last few pages – on celebrities who suffer debilitating stage fright – may seem like filler, it is, in fact, mesmerizing, due in no small part to David’s delivery of it; the horror and tragedy of some of these famous figures’ stories is haunting. But, because there is so much interesting material in the second half, I found myself, to some extent, forgetting the training of the first. I wonder if perhaps it would have been better presented the other way round, transposing its two halves, to ensure it ended on a more relevant note.
Dr. Fish has a broad spectrum of expertise, and the book is extensively researched – he is high quality and I wish him success. “Goodbye Butterflies...” is well-constructed, well-structured and incredibly well-written, by a clearly educated and eloquent author. An aesthetically pleasing reference guide, in the style of the “For Dummies...” books, with some nice imagery, and a great little Dr. Fish avatar, which pops up frequently to highlight useful key points. All this said, I did find a little concerning the number of grammatical errors which have been missed in this book; I don’t think it can be deemed ready quite yet, until that final polish, though I do have a tendency to nit-pick.
All in all, this is a hard-worked, comprehensive and credential-rich self-help reference guide, which, rather than an evening’s light reading, should be taken time over, as a project – albeit a hugely entertaining one. A great success of a book, with something for everyone.
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