Author: Lori Gottlieb
APA Style Citation
Gottlieb, L. (2019). Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A therapist, HER Therapist and our Lives RevealedNew York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
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“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls. Who looks inside, awakes.”
Lori Gottlieb’s long-term relationship ends abruptly when her boyfriend tells her that he cannot live in the same house as a child, since Lori has an 8-year old son, there is no changing the outcome of his decision. Gottlieb finds herself, angry, confused and uncertain about her future. She uses her network as a psychologist to get a recommendation from a colleague believing that she just needs to talk to someone for a few weeks until she can sort out how to move on from the relationship. Gottlieb shares her own experiences with her therapist and explains how she moved from hurt and anger (and some internet stalking of her ex-boyfriend) to picturing a future without him.
Gottlieb also introduces the reader to some of her own clients (she changes their names and combines some of their complaints to abide by issues of confidentiality). Gottlieb discusses a narcissistic movie producer who initially comes to discuss all of the “idiots” around him to determine how he can better deal with them but, ultimately needs to work through the aftermath of his young son’s death. Gottlieb also describes working with a young newlywed who is dying of cancer. Gottlieb knows this when she takes her on as a client and the story of her impending death is at turns laugh out loud funny, horribly depressing and always thoughtful. Another client is a young twenty-something that keeps sleeping with the wrong guys and who has a complicated relationship with her own parents as well as some self-esteem issues. Through reading each of these scenarios, we come to care about her clients even when they are self-centered and irritating and hope that they find peace and contentment in their lives.
Gottlieb describes how she tries to see the good in each of her clients. She describes therapy as an exploration in how to change. For some, this can mean changing how their past influences their present and future, for others it may mean changing how they see themselves or how they interact with others. Each person who goes to therapy has their own reasons but Gottlieb believes that the presenting problem (the reason a person provides for starting therapy) often represents deeper seated issues the person is experiencing.
Gottlieb’s relationship with her own therapist lasts far longer than the few weeks she initially intended. She comes to appreciate his style of therapy even though it is quite different than her own and to recognize that one need not be fashionable or good looking to be a great therapist. She is a tough client because she is initially not sure what she wants. Her therapist eventually asked her if she wants advice (counseling) or self-understanding (therapy)? He is not willing to simply validate her feelings of anger towards her ex-boyfriend, but instead makes her do the hard work to realize how she could have been so blinded by the break-up and further to plan a future without him. Eventually she finds herself strong enough to move on and end her sessions with him.
Gottlieb’s stories of therapy demonstrate that there are many people who can benefit from therapy, an objective outsider can often provide insight that we cannot see ourselves and that our friends and family are too kind to point out. Gottlieb shares the personal development and self-understanding that therapy can provide and in doing so, breaks down some of the stigma that still exists around seeking treatment.
Other Related Resources
Lori Gottlieb website
Dear Therapist Column with Lori Gottlieb
ABC News Interview with Lori Gottlieb
NPR Fresh Air
WBUR Interview with Lori Gottlieb
Psychological Concepts and Figures
Harry Stack Sullivan
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)
Integrity vs. despair
Medical student’s disease
Somatic symptom disorder
Unconditional positive regard