Families and How to Survive Them

Families and How to Survive Them

infobox Book |
name = Families and How To Survive Them

author = John Cleese and Robin Skynner
cover_artist =
country =
language = English
genre =
publisher =
release_date =
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages =
isbn =


"Families and How to Survive Them" is a bestselling self help book co-authored by the psychiatrist and psychotherapist Robin Skynner and the comedian John Cleese. It was first published in 1983, and is illustrated throughout by the cartoonist J.B. Handelsman. The book takes the form of a series of dialogues between Skynner, playing the role of therapist, and Cleese, who adopts the role of inquisitive lay person. The book, among other things, is a description and analysis of how and why we fall in love, how we develop from babies to adolescents to adults, and how during this development we so often become "stuck" in child-like behaviour, and how all these things are influenced by previous generations in our families. The authors themselves have said that the aim of the book was "to make intelligible and accessible the psychological aspects of how families behave and function; what makes some work and others fail; and how families can move up the scale towards greater health and happiness", ["Life and How to Survive It", Introduction] and that the motivation behind it was to "make available to the general public, in a way that was easy to absorb, those aspects of psychological knowledge we had found most helpful ourselves towards making life more understandable, meaningful, and enjoyable". ["Life and How to Survive It", Introduction]

"Families and How to Survive Them" may be said to have arisen from two sources - an earlier book, "One Flesh, Separate Persons: Principles of Family and Marital Therapy" (1976) by Skynner, and work carried out by Skynner at the Institute of Family Therapy in London in the 1970s. Cleese, who attended a lengthy course of group therapy at the institute in the mid seventies, was so impressed by what he experienced that, motivated by a desire to spread what lay behind the therapy to a wider audience, proposed to Skynner that they write a book summarising and outlining the principles involved.

"Families and How to Survive Them" is generally acknowledged as being one of the best books for the lay person on family relationships and the social development of children. It was and remains a huge success, and is viewed as being both educational and amusing, as well as making a significant contribution towards the demystifying of psychological illness. The British Journal of Psychiatry described it as being "of paramount importance".Fact|date=July 2008 People who read the book often speak of it as being "a complete eye opener" and of a desire to rush out and buy a dozen copies for their friends. Many people who have read it have identified it as being indispensable in giving insights into their own lives, and providing a better understanding about how to bring up happy and well balanced children.


Chapter 1: Why Did I Have to Marry You?

Chapter 2: I'm God, and Let's Leave it Like That

Chapter 3: The Astonishing Stuffed Rabbit

Chapter 4: Who's in Charge Here?

Chapter 5: What are You Two Doing in There?


*cite book|author=Robin Skynner, John Cleese| title=Families and How to Survive Them |publisher=Mandarin; New Ed edition (13 Sep 1984)|year=1984|id=ISBN 9780413565204

*cite book|author=Robin Skynner| title=One Flesh, Separate Persons: Principles of Family and Marital Psychotherapy|publisher=Constable|year=1976|id=ISBN 9780094607101

*cite book|author=Robin Skynner, John Cleese| title=Life and How to Survive It |publisher=Methuen Publishing Ltd|year=1993|id=ISBN 9780413660305


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