April 2017 Tool of the Month: Review of the book “Tribe – On Homecoming and Belonging”

We humans are an incredibly social species. One of the reasons why shame is such a powerful and painful emotion for us is that it is intimately tied to our sense of belonging, and in particular, a feeling that our place in the “tribe” may be threatened. In order to understand shame, we also need to understand the role that belonging and a sense of tribe has for us as a species.

The book, Tribe, written by one of the foremost war correspondents of the last thirty years, Sebastian Junger, is an excellent book if you want to understand the modern implications of our evolutionary past as a tribal species. At one level, the book focuses on understanding the plight of American veterans returning from war and how the loss of the close bonds typically developed during wartime contribute to post-deployment distress and problems in functioning. However, at a broader level, this book is about how our need for close, intimate relationships has been disrupted by modern life and how to fix it. He beautifully weaves together narrative storytelling with research from psychology, history, and anthropology to succinctly illustrate how our need for belonging and shared purpose is central to human functioning.

For anyone who is a fan of ACTwithCompassion.com, Tribe is an extremely relevant book that will help you better understand your client’s needs for belonging and how disruptions in belonging are linked to traumatic reactions and relationship difficulties. In addition, it’s an entertaining reading experience with excellent prose. It’s also highly recommended for anyone interested in learning more about our tribal evolutionary heritage and a great companion to other great books on the evolutionary origins of cooperation and altruism like Ultrasociety and Moral Origins.

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