Fragile Power

Why Having Everything Is Never Enough; Lessons from Treating the Wealthy and Famous

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About The Book

A revealing exploration of people whose wealth, fame, beauty, and social status grant them immense power. Celebrity culture drives us to aspire to be like the few who seem to have figured out how to have it all. But is it possible that they simultaneously have everything and nothing at all?

Having treated some of the world’s most successful people, psychotherapist “Dr. Paul” sets out to answer why so many people who have everything end up feeling like their achievements are never enough—as well as what that pattern can reveal about ourselves and the society in which we live.

The exclusivity of living behind the velvet rope or the gilded gate doesn’t guarantee happiness for the rich, famous, and powerful; there are downsides to attainment as well. We all—including people who seem protected by their privileged lives—can experience the self-destructive behaviors common to modern life, including chronic stress, addiction, anxiety, imposter syndrome, infidelity, negative body image, and narcissism.

Division marks our era. There’s a growing separation between the haves and have nots, men and women, as well as the empowered and the disenfranchised. At the same time, our culture is defined by celebrities, and the powerful, affluent people we put on a pedestal to idolize and emulate. Too often, we think our lives would be better if we could have what they have or be more like them. It’s time to realize that even the most admired people can go through life feeling unloved and unable to escape their problems.

From the therapist’s chair, we learn how feelings of shame, insecurity, abandonment, and emotional pain are all part of the human condition. With empathy, we can overcome our sense of isolation by realizing that we all crave—and deserve—understanding, intimacy, and real connection.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Hazelden Publishing (October 8, 2019)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781616497651

Raves and Reviews

"One of the reasons we read is to empathize. To understand the lives of others. To value experiences not our own. In doing so, quite often we learn about ourselves. Dr. Paul Hokemeyer’s Fragile Power is an illuminating, compassionate study of the mental and emotional issues hiding beneath the veneer of success. His subjects are among the superelite, but his wisdom and insight are relevant to anyone who struggles with identity, shame, and self-worth. An intimate, highly readable book filled with Dr. Paul’s generosity of spirit and grace."

– —David Ebershoff, New York Times best-selling author of The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife

"Freud believed that at a certain point—middle age—it’s impossible to correct a personality disorder. In Fragile Power, Dr. Paul Hokemeyer proves that even the great Sigmund made mistakes. It’s never too late to change, and Hokemeyer explains how to start."

– —Gerald Clarke, New York Times best-selling author of Capote and Get Happy

"Fragile Power is a fascinating look into the psychological world of the rich and famous. The incredibly wise Dr. Hokemeyer uses examples that explore topics such as ambition, vanity, sex, and beauty. His examples and techniques are both wildly entertaining and remarkably informative, and allow the reader to empathize with this elite group of curious."

– —David Burtka, chef, caterer, and actor; author and host of an award-winning Food Network special—both titled Life Is a Party

"It’s easy to forget, when you’re in therapy, that the living, breathing human being sitting across from you is experiencing their own range of emotions. In Fragile Power, Dr. Paul Hokemeyer brings that living, breathing human being to life. . . beautifully. A psychological examination that somehow manages to also be a page-turner, Fragile Power reveals the insecurities that the person on the other side of the couch is experiencing while also bringing empathy and understanding to a segment of the population that tends not to receive any. If any book can show you how skewed our societal values are, this is it."

– —Anna David, New York Times best-selling author of Party Girl

"Dr. Paul reminds us that happiness is an inside job—even for billionaires. This smart and timely book reveals the cultural and economic issues that divide us. Polarization leads us to believe that if we can get past the velvet rope and achieve social identity through wealth and power, it will heal us. Dr. Paul’s core idea is that social cohesion follows from self-awareness, empathy, and connection. No one’s power can buy their way out of that hard work. Important commentary for all."

– —Richard Socarides, human rights advocate, communications strategist, attorney, Clinton White House advisor, CNN political commentator, and writer for The New Yorker

"Paul Hokemeyer pulls the curtain back, exposing the internal battles of upscale and privileged individuals in our culture. Fragile Power is filled with anecdotal examples where he lays bare the unique types of loneliness, despair, and fragility within the addictive climate of “celebrity,” while exploring the challenges these people face in seeking help and counsel. Hokemeyer reveals the pain behind lavish lifestyles and seemingly enviable situations. A must-read."

– —Susan Weitzman, PhD, LCSW, author of “Not to People Like Us”

"Fragile Power is an important contribution to our understanding of the human being who embodies the paradox of power and powerlessness, of control and vulnerability, of worth and worthlessness—and how when untreated and unresolved, can destroy a life."

– —Kathleen O’Hara, MA, LPC, psychotherapist and the author of A Grief Like No Other

"I adore this book! Dr. Paul delicately takes the reader on an explorative journey on every page of Fragile Power. Offering an authentic blend of Paul’s own personal journey . . . with resources and teachings, each chapter weaves an experience with such insightful depth that, as a professional, I felt compelled to keep turning the page. It is a book I will come back to for years to come."

– —Samantha H. Quinlan, influencer and cofounder of iCAAD.COM

"I highly recommend you pick up this book and read it! Thank you, Dr. Paul, for giving us a peek into your magic world of “fragile power”—a world so few understand. This is a must-read for anyone in the recovery field, and the way it’s written is exactly who Paul is: funny, witty, and compassionate!"

– —Janique Svedberg, author, recovery coach, and interventionist

"Wealth. Power. Melancholia? With empathy and insight, Dr. Hokemeyer examines the worlds of successful people—those we admire and emulate—only to find deeply troubled souls at their core. This book provides essential insight into the challenges that face those who, on the surface, embody the perfect human being. Truly a must-read."

– —Johnny Lops, DO, psychiatrist and author of Reinvent Yourself

"For decades, our culture has been pretending that the upper echelon in the world is too wealthy or powerful to succumb to illness or disease. Dr. Hokemeyer brilliantly addresses this misconception in Fragile Power by sharing his clinical prowess and expertise and presenting successful strategies for behavioral health clinicians worldwide to absorb."

– —Denise Bertin-Epp, RN, MSA, international health care consultant and recovery center CEO

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