Book Reviews -- Sharing the Journey: Support Groups and America's New Quest for Community by Robert Wuthnow

Article excerpt

ROBERT WUTHNOW: Sharing the Journey: Support Groups and America 's New Quest for Community. The Free Press, New York, 1994, 463 pp., $24.95.

Sharing the Journey by Robert Wuthnow, Professor of Social Sciences and Director of the Center for the Study of American Religion at Princeton University, deals with issues of self-help groups, focusing on religion, spirituality, the Bible, and prayer as healing and growth producing.

Starting with the history of small groups in the community setting, Wuthnow discusses their rapid spread (40% of Americans are members), and emphasizes the need for understanding and research of issue involved. He describes the investigators carrying out the study, their methodology and conclusions. He also incorporates case histories and group events.

However, although the author's attempt at scientific objectivity is evident, some bias comes through. The heavy emphasis on religious spirituality sometimes overshadows psychological and relationship issues and may strike the mental health professional as lacking depth. For example, in the first case, describing a young woman's tragic and turbulent life in childhood as well as in marriage, not one word is mentioned about the couple's relationship. …