From its inception, the “talking cure” has existed on the elusive boundary between art and science. Patients and therapists often have real difficulty in describing the experiential reality of therapy. When people attempt to learn about psychotherapy by reading academic textbooks they usually come away dissatisfied, perhaps feeling like the psychoanalyst Helmuth Kaiser, who once compared reading a textbook of psychotherapy to “trying to decipher a melody by looking at the grooves on the record.”
This book contains nineteen fictional portrayals of psychotherapy. Like all good works of fiction it will appeal to many audiences: experienced psychotherapists, those in training, people who are currently in, have been in, or who are thinking about entering, psychotherapy, and everyone who appreciates good short stories about the complexities of human relationships. The origin of this volume stems from the awareness that works of the imagination can make concrete and palpable the atmosphere, texture, rhythm, nuances, and tension of therapy.
Both the fiction writer and the psychotherapist are commentators and interpreters, reconstructing the past through the telling of stories. The metaphors created by artists may stand closer to the experience of a lived psychotherapy than do the elegant abstractions of scientists.
While many of the stories in this anthology show the successes of therapy, some reflect the difficulties and failures. These stories neither propagandize for the effectiveness of therapy nor present an idealized image of the psychotherapist. In general, they focus on the neurotic and character problems and the crises of everyday living–the inability to love, blocked creativity, the incapacity to mourn–the people bring to psychotherapy. These stories also reflect the complex ways in which patients and therapists interact, touching on a variety of central therapeutic issues. (321 pages)