Evenin’ all. Today’s “Read-it-if” falls into one of my favourite sub-genres: psychiatric tales. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the sort of books produced by such lauded psychotherapists as Irvin D. Yalom and Susie Orbach, which involve therapists spilling their guts (and the guts of their patients) with identities changed to protect the innocent. Based on this enjoyment, I figured The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves by psychotherapist Stephen Grosz would be just the ticket.
The book is divided into short collections of patient-therapist interaction based around a particular theme such as grief and loss or romantic relationships. I found the interactions in the first half of the book to be missing the all-important therapist’s perspective, and without this, the anecdotes had the feel of random, slightly amusing (or disturbing) stories chucked in for…..well, I’m not sure what for. Thankfully, this was rectified in the second half of the book and I felt at the conclusion of this tome that it had been a satisfying reading experience.
Read it if:
* you just can’t resist a good old eavesdrop when the opportunity arises
* you are of the belief that shoes should be removed before availing oneself of the therapist’s couch
* you’ve always wondered what that therapist was really thinking when you related the emotional turmoil you experienced that time you accidentally got yourself caught in your zipper
* you suspect that your therapist may actually be snoozing/texting/fantasizing about their next yacht purchase on the quiet while you blab away on the couch
This is a fascinating and light read for anyone who has any kind of voyeuristic tendency. If you’re looking for something that delves more deeply into the psychotherapist’s methods and approach, I would probably lean more towards Yalom’s work (specifically Love’s Executioner) or Susie Orbach’s creatively named The Impossibility of Sex (pictured below). However Grosz’s little tome is a nice introduction to the topic and an engaging and relatively quick read.
Until next time,