This little book of case studies has created a buzz in the small world of counselling and psychotherapy. It's been reviewed by the Guardian here, by the Observer here and by Rory of counsellingtutor.com here. Chapters have also been broadcast on BBC Radio Four's Book of the Week and can still be heard on the Marsden Therapy Podbean page here.
I'll start my review by mentioning a major reservation I have about the book in respect of client confidentiality. I accept that Grosz has protected the anonymity of his clients by changing names and details. I don't know how well disguised his clients are or whether they would recognise their private tribulations within the pages of his book. I don't know whether Grosz obtained consent from his clients or if his clients knew when they attended psychotherapy that Grosz was collecting stories for a future publication.Maybe Grosz didn't know that either. It's a mistake to think that anonymity is the same as confidentiality. Whilst anonymity protects the identity of the client, the principle of confidentiality guards not only the client's identity but - within limits - everything the client says. Of course one of the book's selling points is that it provides an insight into the private world of psychotherapy, but I remained uneasy as I read these very personal case histories, transformed into very beautiful stories.
The book itself contains thirty-one brief chapters in which the author considers both the process of psychotherapy and the lives of his clients. With deep understanding he reflects on what he finds there, pointing out the unconscious motivations behind human behaviour, showing how apparently irrational choices make sense in the wider context of early experience and the need to protect the individual from something much worse. So jealousy protects us from the fear of being abandoned and paranoia guards us against the fear of being alone. Sometimes Grosz's conclusions are ingenious, sometimes speculative, but always thought provoking. There is great wisdom and humanity in this book. Reading the book as a counsellor I was inspired and encouraged to keep listening to my clients and to continue helping them to tell their stories.