Book Reviews

By Dave Franklin

The Caveman Principles is that most rare of things, a self help book, which is light, humorous and, above all, useful. Anyone who is used to reading books in this genre are aware that most come off like a cross between Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and The Art of War, a so will find this approach something of a refreshing change. As well as being a totally accessible text, it is laid out in bite sized chunks which means that it also makes for a great coffee table book, one that you can dip in and out of, absorbing the information in short, piece-meal bursts. Equally you could very easily take in its main concepts in one dedicated sitting.

Whilst the subject matter, combatting stress in the modern age, is nothing new, Carl Jones approach is. Crucially it begins with discussing the evolutionary purpose of stress and why in simpler times and in certain scenarios, it actually served a very real and very useful purpose. The title refers to the device used within to simplify the ideas it works with, namely stripping things back to more primitive, baser concepts via the use of the analogy of The Caveman and his world.

The book starts out by examining stress, the flight or fight scenario, brought into the modern age with the addition of the “freeze” option and looking at what today’s equivalent of the mammoth attack may be to our modern day Caveman. But it is the second section of the book where some really fascinating concepts come into play. Various thinkers and academics have used personality profiling to pigeon hole human traits and continuing the analogy Jones divides his tribe up into Hunters, Gatherers, Protectors and Healers and shows that it is through not only identifying which you are but understanding the often changeable nature of those around you which enables you to see their point of view better.

Part three then looks at change, why most people resist it and again by understanding why it is natural to prefer comfort zones, how you can be more accepting that it is often necessary and not always scary.

This is a book so much more than about stress management; it is about understanding the complexities of modern life, recognising the modern “Mammoth Attacks” and learning how to deal with them. It is about learning to see other people’s worldview and how you can deal with them more successfully once you understand where they are situated in the hierarchy of the modern day tribe. It is also about realising that these issues can be dealt with and the rewards are a happier and more fulfilling life.

But for me the main selling point is the ease by which you can access the information in the book, the often-breezy nature with which the information is imparted and complete lack of academia and jargon. Some day all books about well-being will be written this way.