– the word is a great favourite of advertising executives and politicians. It is a word used so often, sometimes carelessly,that we rarely stop to question its meaning.

"Yet trust," says Auckland psychotherapist and writer Mary Farrell, "is the most significant part of the relationships we build with each other – without it there can be no true relationship." Every relationship we have, whatever its nature, depends on trust for its successful continuance. Sometimes life itself depends on it. But how do we trust other people? And what happens to us when our trust is betrayed?

In her book, Acts of Trust: Making Sense of Risk, Trust and Betrayal in Our Relationships, Mary Farrell discusses these questions. She looks at the ways in which trust is built, how trust begins, how it develops and how, sometimes, it is destroyed. She explores the parts played by risk, fear and trust in our everyday relationships – those between husband and wife; parent and child; people and animals; friends; lovers; workmates; employer and employee relationships – and in our expectations of ourselves and of others.

In Acts of Trust Mary helps us to make sense of trust by using familiar stories from television, film and literature, plus true-life case studies about exceptional people who have engaged in extraordinary acts of trust.

The stories include that of the fictional character Tony Soprano from the hit television series; Othello and Desdemona from Shakespeare’s timeless play; the highly disturbed character from Peter Shaffer’s extraordinary play, Equus, and some very real people such as the Native American woman who runs a wolf sanctuary and lives and works with wild animals; the circus couple ‘The Amazing Hartzells’ who need absolute trust to perform a ‘William Tell’ act together; horse-whisperer Franklin Levinson; best-selling author Susan Winter who has studied relationships between older women and younger men; and the very personal story of actor Michael Hurst.

Through these stories Mary demonstrates how early life experience affects the levels of trust inside us, and how traumatic incidents can change our inner landscape into one that is ruled by suspicion, nervousness and constant vigilance. In doing so she sheds light on the nature of our relationships and how they operate.

Acts of Trust isn’t another ‘how to’ or a DIY psychology book. "I don’t believe in a quick fix or the magic bullet," says Mary Farrell. "We are infinitely intricate and fluid beings – to pin down or define human interaction is to belie our complexity. In terms of creativity, however, I believe that universal and relevant themes are restated in the stories, movies, plays, television programmes and books that capture our imaginations and by exploring these I want to light a few candles in the darkness."

To purchase Acts Of Trust, email Mary at
click here for the publisher- Exisle Publishing.