A professional headshot photo of Nur Muhammad Mahi Shafiullah

Nur Muhammad "Mahi" Shafiullah

I am trying to teach robots to do all my chores at @NYU-robot-learning, Previously @facebookresearch


Few vague ways of ‘fixing’ your broken heart

Published Apr 19, 2018

How to Fix a Broken Heart
Written by Guy Winch
Published by Simon & Schuster, as a part of TED Books


What do you do when your heart is broken?

It’s a hard question, with perhaps a different and an unclear answer for everyone. Broken hearts are an undeniable reality of life, yet there seems to be rarely a response to it other than “get over it.” So, when licensed psychologist Guy Winch, PhD offered a methodical way of “getting over it,” I, as a college student right out of my teenage years (with my fair share of heartbreaks in the past), read and reviewed it for you.

Winch starts each chapter with a story of a heartbreak — not just romantic ones, but also the ones over the deaths of a beloved pet — that his patients told him during his practice. He extracts his thesis each chapter right out of the story, showing how his patients may have acted against their best interest. He goes beyond theorizing, and presents actionables that may help the recently-heartbroken to deal with their heartbreaks better.

I won’t bore you or kill Winch’s business by listing the actionables here. But, I’ll tell you something: it doesn’t have that much extra content over what you can find in his TED Talk (http://bit.ly/winch-broken-heart) by the same name. Why one spans 100 pages while the other only 12 ½ minutes, I cannot even begin to explain.

In the book, Winch explains in detail how your instinct is not to be trusted once you have had your heart broken. He tells you how your brain may be showering in the same chemicals as those in a drug addict’s, yet you will not know them. Reading and knowing about them all is fine, perhaps somewhat useful, too. But, given this truly grave situation, I question how many of the book’s lessons you might remember and practice once your heart is broken. It seems to me that perhaps a friend or family who’s supporting someone else through a heartbreak, just like how Winch helps his patients, might be a better suited reader of this book.

Winch’s writing style is nothing fancy. It takes the possibly familiar, slightly patronizing tone that some therapists adopt when talking to their clients. The style isn’t entirely bad, but it can be exhausting. I found myself out of breath quite a few times even when I was reading a book that stretched slightly over 100 pages. The few illustrations strewn around the book were put in with good intentions, I believe, but they end up being just pretty pictures more than anything else. Their paucity means they don’t help move forward the story Winch is telling, and their somber tone means anyone truly heartbroken will only be more depressed encountering them.

I know better, or at least more clearly, about the pitfalls of heartbreak now that I have read this book, but I cannot say for sure I will practice them next time my heart gets broken. Perhaps when I am comforting my heartbroken friend, I can encourage them to practice a few tricks I learned here. In the end, that’s the biggest hope I can offer you if you choose to read How to Fix a Broken Heart.

Randomly chosen favorite quotes from Goodreads.