Monday, February 8, 2010
Memoir Serves As Self Help, Too!
Book: The Therapist's New Clothes
By: Judith D. Schwartz
Publisher: Shires Press
Reviewed by Carla Cantor for Amazon.com
In The Therapist's New Clothes, Judith D. Schwartz takes us on a journey of self-discovery. Haunted by her grandmother's suicide, the author has spent most of her adult years trying to resolve emotional problems with her for as long as she can remember. But despite years of self-analysis and psychotherapy, she is unable to hold onto happiness. Her quest to conquer her demons takes on an even greater urgency once she marries and has a child. Desperate for answers, Schwartz seeks out a string of clinicians with whom she forges close, symbiotic relationships as they struggle to piece together the puzzle of her childhood. At the same time, she decides to
become a therapist herself.
Schwartz's pursuit of a tranquil psyche unfolds like a detective story, from New York to Chicago to Vermont and back and forth in time. The author moves deftly between early years and present-day life and provides an uncommon peek into the private worlds of therapy sessions and clinician training.
A "good patient" and a caring, astute beginning therapist, Schwartz
understands the ins and outs of concepts like transference and projection.
She clings to a personal narrative that includes guilt and parental blame
for a case of childhood mumps that may that (or may not) have caused her
brother's vision problems. Schwartz views emptiness and self-loathing, her
constant companions, as "old" feelings dredged up in therapy, to be worked
out in therapy - preventing her from realizing that the therapy itself has
become addiction that is keeping her from discovering a better way.
We root for this intelligent, insightful woman to unlock the key to her
misery and stop beating herself up, which she eventually does, sort of. One
gets the feeling at the end of the book that there are more chapters to be
written, new narratives and aha moments for the analytic Schwartz - but
that's okay. We can look forward to them.
In the meantime, Schwartz's cautionary tale will be inspiring to others and
make readers think. Aside from sharing a moving personal tale, Schwartz
broaches important questions - about the relationship between mind and body,self and biochemistry, and the meaning of happiness. Her story challenges us to take a look at own narratives and how they influence our perception of who we are in the world.
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