Many times, things do not go as planned. You may be optimistic about life, but life does not always conform to your expectations; life is not a bed of roses.

You may be unprepared for certain emotions, especially when things go wrong, and as a result, you are devastated. People tend to bury emotions, especially disappointment and sadness, rather than deal with them. These emotions, unknowingly to many, may be the source of attitudes that significantly impact your health, your decision-making and your behavior. 

Inside Beyond Pipe Dreams and Platitudes

Beyond Pipe Dreams and Platitudes is a compilation of eight essays that addresses what Dr. Piorkowski learned as a clinical psychologist working with people from many different walks of life for over fifty years. She discovered that while people are fundamentally the same in terms of needs, hopes, dreams, defenses, and fears, there are many psychological realities that are different from the beliefs of present-day Americans. For example, she asserts that positive thinking does more harm than good at times, that romantic love is basically an illusion, that you can’t control anybody, and that vulnerability is more appealing than self-confidence, among other counter-cultural ideas.  She also asserts that luck or chance is more important than talent and hard work at times.   In a chapter on healthy vs. unhealthy Narcissism in Dr. Geraldine’s book, she distinguishes between the two kinds of narcissism. She also asserts that empathy is the most valuable of all communication strategies and is similar to healthy religion in providing kindness and understanding to other people.

In her book, Dr. Piorkowski presents a clear and concise breakdown of human behavior. The explanations were intriguing, especially about facing painful memories and dispelling the myth that you have to think only positive thoughts. Readers will find the reasons why people don’t want to feel vulnerable very helpful. You will also be fascinated by her descriptions of why some people process similar pieces of information so differently. Her book will give readers a clear understanding of why people think and behave in specific ways. A quote from the book: “Self-awareness of negative thoughts is often the jumping-off point for the development of a broader, richer worldview” is an eye-opener. You will also love the sections on The Chronic Complainer and the rise of narcissistic traits in children. The research data made for compelling reading and substantiated the arguments. Dr. Piorkowski’s book is a must-read for anyone looking to improve their relationships with others and understand human behavior.

Who is Dr. Geraldine K. Piorkowski?

Throughout Dr. Geraldine K. Piorkowski’s 50-plus year-long career as a psychologist, she worked with various clients, from young children to couples, and in many different settings, from New Jersey’s College of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark to Chicago’s Northwestern Medical School.  She was also the Chair of the Psychology Dept. at Roosevelt University in Chicago and the Director of the Counseling Center at two universities. After her retirement in 2017 and reflecting on her career, she realized that people are basically the same in terms of hopes, dreams, and fears, but with different ways of viewing and coping with the world.  However, she also realized that many of the sacred cows in American Popular Culture are not supported by psychological realities.  Thus, she wanted to uncover “provocative issues that are not readily apparent in the culture at large.” Her reflections led her on a three-year journey to writing her third book entitled “Beyond Pipe Dreams and Platitudes.”

Dr. Piorkowski has always had an interest in writing. She was the feature editor for her school’s newspaper in high school. In college, she waited until the day before she was required to declare her major because she was trying to decide between journalism and psychology.  She settled upon Psychology and became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society as an undergraduate.

After completing her bachelor’s degree, she entered graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, when few women did so, and eventually earned her Ph.D. in 1964.  Before the pandemic, she volunteered at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, where she worked with amputees.

Piorkowski compares a liberal arts education to a prism, saying it provides different perspectives for viewing the world. According to her, it broadens your thinking about life, providing a multifaceted perspective that is invaluable in understanding the world’s problems.

             Currently, Dr. Piorkowski is on the local Board of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, where she is Chair of the Book Club, and lives in Chicago with her husband of sixty-three years.