A Toronto-based clinical psychologist weighs the travails of mental illness on both sufferer and healer.
In addition to patient stories, Gildiner also recounts instances of her own Type A behavior, which leads to the tendency “to mow others down while driving toward our own ambitions.” In one case, she took a patient, to use her apt metaphor, above the depths of the unconscious so quickly that the result was akin to “psychological bends.” The power of the therapist can breed complacency, she notes, and, combined with years of experience, the feeling that one has seen it all. In Gildiner’s case, she certainly had not, and her book is full of self-discovery. One of the most affecting sections of her five-part case study concerns a Cree man who had weathered the death of a child, physical and sexual abuse, and depression. He also suffered from what she calls the “multigenerational trauma” of similar losses, a trauma resistant to treatment by psychotherapy, which “wasn’t designed to deal with cultural annihilation.” Another patient suffers not from multiple personality, as the common trope has it, but instead from dissociative identity, which “means that a fragmentation of the main personality has occurred.” Given that fragmentation refers to bits and pieces of missing psychological skills, it’s a wonder all of us don’t merit the diagnosis. In another instance, a woman was told daily by her grudging mother that she was a monster, “spoiled, grumpy, lazy, and fat,” when in fact she was none of those things. The brainwashing is just that practiced by narcissists at all levels—a valuable lesson for all readers, given how exposed we are to narcissists these days. Overcoming fear is no easy thing, writes the author, and her five patients as well as her own therapy lead her to the pointed conclusion that “all self-examination is brave.”
Insightful psychological lessons of special interest to readers on therapeutic journeys of their own.
Read the review Here