Thought Shredder by Chris Elliot is a powerful and unflinching look at Elliot’s damaged relationship with his father and how that has affected his behavior throughout his life. Far from this being a story about one man’s problems, Elliot’s story could apply to anyone, as everyone has at least some problems with their upbringing, no matter how idyllic their childhood. That Elliot’s childhood was horrific at the hands of an abusive parent makes his book all the more effective, albeit a difficult read. It’s raw and unnerving, but make no mistake: this is core to what makes the book so powerful.
The main thread running through the book is that Elliot is afraid of becoming his abusive father. This is especially daunting as he becomes a father himself. The greatest realization he makes is that instead of repeating his father’s mistakes, he can actually learn from them: he knows what not to do. As the saying goes, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” Elliot has many demons in his past, but he teaches how to turn these negatives into a positive.
This could only work if Elliot was bluntly honest, and he is. This isn’t a vague “power of positive thinking” tract (though that is an important component), it’s about addressing one’s darker issues in order to transcend them. One must confront the past in order to not be buried in it, and then replace those past habits with better ones, which can affect every facet of one’s life: personal, professional and social. It’s an important message, and Elliot’s story about achieving a healthier life is both inspiring and admirable.