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March 07, 1985|ROSELLE M. LEWIS

Your Emotional Life and What You Can Do About It by James Drane (Thomas More Press: $9.95).

Maybe it's time to ask why bad things seem to happen to "bad" people. You know, those kvetches who go through life complaining to the supermarket checker, returning half of what they buy, wearing granitic frowns? They often suffer, the author believes, from depression, ill health and bad luck because they fail in their "ongoing struggles with negative feelings."

A professor of philosophy who has studied psychology at the Menninger Foundation, Drane manages to steer clear of the ballyhoo and the hard sell often associated with self-help books. Using simple examples, he draws on both religious tenets and psychological findings.

To combat depression and break through to new levels of self-understanding, Drane suggests a moral view of the human condition. And it's certainly refreshing to find boredom discussed as a mental health problem.

Drane's conclusion that "most real problems do not have complete solutions" may be disappointing to some readers, and his reliance on prayer and God's forgiveness may not be the answer for all.

Yet in echoing the poet Auden, who observed that we "struggle for and with the world day by day," Drane offers a sound behavioral blueprint.

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