Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb [8/10]

I’ve never been to a psychotherapist (to use a loose term) nor do I know anyone who has (though perhaps I haven’t asked my friends?). And yet I support the notion that some form of therapist or counsellor could well be enormously helpful. On the positive side of this knowledge balance sheet, I have read tons of novels featuring therapy sessions, which has accorded me the illusion of “understanding” how the process works. To prick the bubble of that illusion, I’ve now turned to a book much talked about, Lori Gottlieb’s “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed.” I now count myself privileged, for Gottlieb not only seems like an ideal, passionately humane therapist, but her tell-all shows an adept, deep-thinking storyteller. Boldly, she alternates stories of her clients – fascinating, all of them – with a tale of her own plunge into despair after a relationship breakdown and her own subsequent sessions with, it turns out, an equally devoted therapist. This narrative decision grants Gottlieb licence to really delve into how therapy might occur, what it can do, and the painstaking way it unfolds. “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” is an intoxicating read from the very first page. I was especially taken with her excruciatingly patient journey with patient John, who Gottlieb at an early point in the book categorizes as “an asshole with exceptional teeth”; what begins as a description of an ordeal gradually morphs into muted success (or is it?). In turns funny, disturbing, and enlightening, this is a rare book indeed, an illumination of modern humanity.

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