Posted by: Nyxks | February 20, 2007

Set Yourself Free

Set Yourself Free
by Shirley Smith
© 1990,1991,1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999
Radiant Group Pty, Ltd. P.O. Box 409 Newport NSW 2106 Australia
256 pages + Afterword & Bibliography
ISBN 0-9751021-0-9
(available from
Reviewed by: Mike Gleason

I have been reading books on a much wider range of topics that usual, for me. When I got this book for review I wasn’t sure if It would fit anywhere in my Pagan-friendly universe, but then I got to thinking about the topics of co-dependency and addiction and their prevalence in the Pagan world.

The author lived in the U.S. for much of her life, but has been an Australian citizen since 2994, so this book (although written for an Australian readership) has the advantage of a multi-cultural approach. Australian attitudes are very different from those in the U.S.

I will say right now that this book is not an enjoyable one to read. It presents some very unpleasant realities which many of us (96% according to some estimates) need to face in our lives. That is all the more reason you need to read this book.

The only major disadvantage that I can find in this book is that, naturally, the resources listed are in Australia, which is inconvenient for the average American. There is a website, however, which I am sure could provide some more available resources.

You will need to read this book with an open mind, which may be difficult for many, as it challenges the views we all have about our families and experiences growing up. It strips away pretense and illusion and holds up a mirror which reflects, perhaps for the first time, the way we cope. There are no more distortions, no slightly pout of focus points. It may be frightening to see your life in this honest light.

This is an anniversary re-issue of a book which, even in its first incarnation must have been good. By being updated and expanded by the addition of personal success stories from Ms. Smith’s practice, it has become even more inspirational. I saw many of my friends, as well as myself, reflected throughout this book. Even those who do not believe in the value of therapy can benefit from reading this book.

The first half shows how to recognize the roots of problems and reactions, while the second half offers suggestions for bringing those parts of your life into balance. It isn’t going to solve all your problems, but it may help you to recognize them so you can begin to work on them.

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