I've just begun writing my Magickal Defense II class over at Shadowkrafting.com. One of the books I read as part of my research was Have You Been Hexed? Recognizing and Breaking Curses by Alexandra Chauran. Like most books on metaphysics, it has its strengths and weaknesses but overall is worth reading if you're new to the subject. If you already have pretty decent knowledge of common psychic attacks and how to deal with them you won't get a lot of new information.
One of the things I like most about this book is that it distinguishes between deliberate, purposeful psychic attack (think if evil practitioners slinging hexes over black candles) and the "common curse." The common curse, as Chauran refers to it, is the unconscious or unskillful sending of negative energy from one person to another. Real, deliberate, skillful hexing is incredibly rare. To cast a truly harmful hex requires skill, practice, determination, energy, and a willingness to accept the consequences. Very few practitioners with the knowledge and skill to cast such a spell will do so unless you've seriously wronged them or someone the love, making real hexes quite rare. Common curses are much, much more plentiful. Anytime someone cuts you off in traffic and you swear and shake your fist at them you are sending a common curse - a batch of negative energy sent their way. A skillful hex can ruin someone's life; a common curse might make someone miss a traffic light - maybe - if the person is unlucky and has terrible natural shielding. This distinction is important and rarely made so explicitly; kudos to Chauran for this.
I also like that Chauran takes the time to warn readers about the potential of fraud from psychics and other practitioners that a person might go to for help. Sadly, in every group there will always be those looking to make a quick buck from the frightened and naive. We've all heard stories of someone going to a psychic to ask if they're under psychic attack and the psychic saying "Yes, you're under attack and for just $500 I can remove it." While this type of fraud is quite rare (and highly illegal), it does happen occasionally and it's important for folks to be aware. Chauran gives good information on how to avoid this type of fraud and instead find genuine help.
Chauran also does a pretty good job explaining what type of symptoms are potential evidence of a real psychic attack and how to go about determining their validity. I'd say about 1 in 25 people who think they're under psychic attack are actually suffering from the negative energy of others. It's very easy to think you're under attack when, in fact, you're just having shitty luck or are getting ill. Chauran looks at all the different warning signs of a potential psychic attack, shows how to look for mundane causes, how to eliminate erroneous "proof," and how to look at things objectively to figure out what's really going on. I really like this pragmatic approach. Too many "resources" on psychic attack are alarmist or are just trying to sell you something.
I also like her thorough explanation on how thinking you're under attack can actually place a self-hex. I've been trying to get clients to understand this for years. If you believe you're under attack you will be - from yourself if not from the outside, or in the worst cases from both within and without. Chauran gives good solid info on how self-hexes work and gives some reasonable info on fixing the situation.
There are, of course, things in the book that I don't agree with - quite a few really.
The first thing that bothered me was Chauran's insistence that any practitioner skilled enough to sling a harmful hex must have their lives put together. I call Bullshit. You can be smart and skilled and still suck at life. All it takes to sling a really powerful hex is skill, energy, and an acceptance of the consequences. There are plenty of hateful, miserable people who generally fail at life that have developed the skill of hating on others to a potent and powerful degree. In fact, the more miserable a person is the more likely they blame others for their misfortunes and the more likely they are to take retribution for their perceived slights into their own hands. Further, the more miserable someone is the more negative energy they'll have on hand to throw at others.
Another thing Chauran lists are being necessary evidence for a hex is a distinct start date for the symptoms. In theory this sounds reasonable - if someone places a hex on Wednesday night, symptoms should start turning up by Thursday morning right? Well, not necessarily. If you're looking at a common curse then yes, symptoms are going to start right after the negative energy is sent your way. If you're dealing with a deliberate hex then maybe not. It's perfectly possible to place a delayed or gradual hex. For example, a skilled practitioner would probably make their hex more gradual and insidious to avoid immediate detection and make it more difficult to pinpoint and thus undo the hex. While a distinct start date is strong evidence for the presence of a hex, its absence is not dispositive proof of a lack of hex. Nitpicky? Perhaps. But hey, I'm a lawyer and nitpicky is what I do.
My biggest issue with this book is its hex removal and prevention strategies. I'm a down and dirty results driven practitioner. I will beg borrow and steal from any tradition whose techniques actually work and will gleefully chuck the dross to the wind. This book places a huge emphasis on prayer as a hex removal and prevention technique. Yes, if you have a good relationship with a higher power then prayer can absolutely help with common curses. If you don't have an established relationship with a higher power then it's a little less helpful. Further, in my experience prayer alone will do basically nothing against a skillfully placed hex unless your relationship with deity is essentially being their personal saint.
Chauran does give some good magickal advice on dealing with hexes. I particularly like her suggestion of creating a sigil to represent the curse (particularly if it's on a place or group of people) and then ritually destroying it to dismantle the curse. With the right magickal precautions, and a few extra bits thrown in, it's a great technique. I don't know how well it would work from someone without a magickal background, but it's a solid technique.
Overall, I would recommend this book for a layman looking to find out "Am I cursed?" It gives very decent information on how to determine whether you're the victim of a psychic attack. It also gives decent information on the first steps someone should take in dealing with a common curse. However, if you determine that you're probably the victim of a deliberate hex, then the info in this book is unlikely to be sufficient and you should seek the aid of a skilled defensive practitioner.
If you're a defensive practitioner looking for more information to add to your arsenal then you can probably skip this one. If you don't already have a checklist for determining if you're looking at psychic attack, then the identification sections of this book could be quite useful. If you already have some decent cleansing and banishing techniques in your skill set then you can skip the hex breaking and prevention sections.