BOOK REVIEW: “Don’t Be A Dick: Change Yourself, Change Your World” by Mark B. Borg, Jr., PhD

Elizabeth Meggs
4 min readAug 5, 2023

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A blue book cover that says, in sans serif typography, “Don’t Be A Dick: Change Yourself, Change Your World” by Mark B. Borg, Jr., PhD. There is a black pictographic figure whose head looks like a bomb behind the typography.
Book cover of “Don’t Be A Dick: Change Yourself, Change Your World” by Mark B. Borg, Jr., PhD (Photo by Elizabeth Meggs)

Is your name Arlo, and did you drink eleven piña coladas on a first date, brag for two hours about once winning a prestigious spelunking award as a student, then try to grope your date? Is your name Jethro, and did you cheat on your serious girlfriend while presenting yourself as single to the innocent women you dated? Is your name Horatio, and did you hide that you simultaneously have children with two wives, TWO FAMILES, from the world? If so, or if any of these scenarios sound familiar to you, the book “Don’t Be A Dick: Change Yourself, Change Your World” by Mark B. Borg, Jr., PhD is the right book for you.

Is this book only about romantic grievances? No, no it is not. The book covers all forms of dickery, from dickish workplace interactions to dicktastic parenting behaviors. The author relies on his knowledge of twelve-step programs for bringing about true and extended life transformation, and applies this knowledge to combatting dickery. He makes a convincing case for putting down the dickery!

The chapters build on preceding principles, and keeping an anti-being-a-dick journal is advised while reading the book, for optimum effectiveness. The book is valuable because it discusses exactly how healthy long-term relationships with ourselves and others can be achieved through adopting new behavior patterns over time, with consideration for how to express conflict in thoughtful ways. Clear self-assessment is a major aspect of having a happy life, and the book advises that one hold up a brutally scathing mirror when acknowledging one’s own dickish behavior toward others. We are even presented with “The Dick Quiz’ on page 14 to take a clear look at ourselves and ask the hard question, “Am I a dick?”

The author feels dickish behavior is often a coverup for our own vulnerabilities, and that everyone should take a moral inventory of themselves and their own behaviors. It also is suggested that confronting dickery with dickery is never a successful solution. The major point of not being a dick is, Borg writes, to “ . . . not be dicks to anyone for any reason whatsoever.”

So, put aside your thoughts of vengeance via public humiliation when Arnoldo or anyone else acts like the world’s worst dick to you, because EVEN THOUGH YOU COULD let the world know how horrible and unethical Arnoldo has been, acts of revenge will not be cathartic and will ultimately just turn you into a dick, too.

A seated smiling white woman with light brown hair who is wearing a blue t-shirt holds up a copy of the book “Don’t Be A Dick: Change Yourself, Change Your World” by Mark B. Borg, Jr., PhD
Reading “Don’t Be A Dick: Change Yourself, Change Your World” by Mark B. Borg, Jr., PhD (Photo courtesy Elizabeth Meggs)

Borg thoughtfully breaks down reasons a person might behave as a dick to others, and through this elucidation we can gain empathy for those behaving dickishly while also understanding our own underlying reasons for acting the dick. Borg nails it when he writes, “ . . . being a dick allows us to avoid the riskier aspects of feeling connected to people.”

Borg’s years of experience as a clinical psychiatrist and psychoanalyst mean that the book is not superficial, but rather built on Borg’s deep knowledge and experience. It’s clear that Borg was not lying when he added the PhD to his title on the book’s cover, though the language of the book is friendly, easy to understand, and non-academic.

This book can help anyone end the cycle of exhibiting one dickish behavior and reaction after the next, and pave the way for empathy, kindness, thoughtfulness, and vulnerability. If everyone read this book and abided by its principles, the world would be a better, happier, and more peaceful place. In fact, if everyone read this book, world peace itself might be achieved. I can think of a few world leaders who should read this book! So, I highly recommend, with 10 out of 10 stars, the book “Don’t Be A Dick: Change Yourself, Change Your World” by Mark B. Borg, Jr., PhD. I’m ordering a tall stack to keep in my bag, so I’ll have it on hand to share with others.

A standing and smiling white woman with light brown hair who is wearing a blue t-shirt holds up a copy of the book “Don’t Be A Dick: Change Yourself, Change Your World” by Mark B. Borg
The reviewer holding a copy of “Don’t Be A Dick: Change Yourself, Change Your World” by Mark B. Borg, Jr., PhD (Photo courtesy Elizabeth Meggs)

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Elizabeth Meggs

Elizabeth Meggs is a Brooklyn-based artist, designer, and writer. BFA: Virginia Commonwealth University; MFA: Pratt Institute