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BOOK REVIEW: Fully Human by Steve Biddulph

| 10 August 2021 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Fully Human by Steve Biddulph

Pan Macmillan Australia
May 2021
Paperback $34.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Non-Fiction / Motivation / Self-Help

90% Rocking

A mother of small children trusts her ‘gut feeling’ and it saves her life.
A young dad is able to grieve for his lost baby – using a song.

What if there were parts of our minds that we never use, but if awakened, could make us so much happier, connected and alive? What if awakening those parts could bring peace to the conflicts and struggles we all go through?

From the cutting edge, where therapy meets neuroscience, Steve Biddulph explores the new concept of ‘supersense’ – the feelings beneath our feelings – which can guide us to a more awake and free way of living every minute of our lives. And the Four Storey Mansion, a way of using your mind that can be taught to a five-year-old, but can also help the most damaged adult.

In Fully Human, Steve Biddulph draws on deeply personal stories from his own life, as well as those of his clients, and from the frontiers of thinking about how the brain works with the body and the wisdom of the ‘wild creature’ inside all of us.

At the peak of a lifetime’s work, one of the world’s best-known psychotherapists and educators shows how you can be more alive, more connected. More Fully Human.


Whole areas of your brain only grow if you are loved and stimulated. It isn’t a metaphor. Your body is your mind. Our ‘felt sense’, our supersense, is the way we experience that, and our little orange-rind cortex that thinks in words is a vital, but only partial, accessory to that.

You’re not likely to sit back from reading this book and go “wow, my whole world-view has changed!” but there are little bits that will seep into your mind over the course of your reading, and if you do take the words on board and do sincerely engage in the exercises, returning to the exercises learnt here when you start to feel destabilised, you will likely learn a little more about yourself, why you operate the way that you do, and how you might change this for the better.

Self-help books often make the mistake – the deception, really – that we can do it on our own. But that was never how human beings were designed. We are a clan, not an individual; a lone human is not a functioning unit.

This is not a book to hand you the answers and steps to follow, but rather offers exercises that will help you start to heal yourself. We as an audience are many and varied, and my childhood trauma responses will likely vary from your own. My triggers and anxieties won’t likely be your triggers and anxieties.

And yet.

In this 280 page book, Biddulph provides some really valuable insight on ways to work on being in touch with what’s going on, being aware of how our body reacts to the events around us (or even our own emotions), and work to stop ourselves from being overwhelmed in this technological age that demands we do everything faster, smarter, better.

Some of us have been so conditioned by our upbringing that we are in denial of our bodily states completely. We think we are okay, but only because we are numbed out. Men often do this because of being told to be brave from a young age, or women from having been told to put others first. Sometimes we need a kick in the pants from someone to even notice how we are faring.

After finishing this book and stepping away from it, you’ll likely find yourself slipping into old habits, getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of modern-day life. But this is where Fully Human comes in handy, to dip back into and refresh your understanding of these calming exercises.

Having this kind of background and regarding it as normal – being cut off from body, from emotion and from spirituality, all but abandoning three whole floors of our Four-Storey Mansion – means that, when the inevitable traumas of life come along, we are very ill-equipped to process them. The problem is not the trauma, but the lack of ability to let our natural healing systems do their job.

This is a book that dials back to our roots, looks at the conditions that help us to thrive, and encourages us to look at what’s really important.

Detuning from the life-destroying story of ‘one day you will be happy’ is not easy, but there are forces on your side, because you remain an animal and a superb body-mind system is working to help you. It’s not so much a programme as a deep listening and following as your own brain, interacting with the world around you, begins to integrate itself.

Happiness should be the journey, not the end-game we spend our whole lives working towards, arriving at that stage too tired to really enjoy it.

Category: Book Reviews

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