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Overcoming Your Childhood

June 29, 1989|ROSELLE M. LEWIS

Being Your Own Parent: The Solution for Adult Children of Alcoholic and Other Dysfunctional Families by Dennis Wholey (Doubleday: $17.95).

Dennis Wholey, former host of PBS-TV's "LateNight America," left his job to write "The Courage to Change," a book about his own alcoholic background. Now, in "Being Your Own Parent," Wholey examines the lives of 14 people whose addictions include alcoholism, overeating, gambling, the abuse of prescriptions or illegal drugs. Then there are other problems, including emotional abandonment.

Variously angry, suppressed, embittered and generally haunted by ghosts from the past, they discuss their problems at meetings of Adult Children of Alcoholics, an organization found in many cities across the nation. Run along the lines of Alcoholics Anonymous, these talk-it-out groups promise anonymity and support.

Wholey also has gathered brief, intelligent essays by experts on dysfunctional behavior. Though much of what is written here might seem familiar to those in the field of psychotherapy, Wholey has made a useful contribution by summarizing personal truths. At bottom, he writes: "We all feel the urgent need to love and be loved." And, "we've all been affected by the past, but none of us need to be a victim of it."

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