The Pregnant Man: And Other Cases from a Hypnotherapist's Couch

Deirdre Barrett, Author, D. Deirdre Barrett, Author Crown Publishers $23 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8129-2905-8
Fans of Oliver Sacks will recognize the narrative strategy in Barrett's exploration of how the seemingly unretrievable past rises to the surface as the patient, guided by the therapist, attempts to recover lost memories--the seeming source of his or her psychic discomfort. With circumspection, detachment and humor, Barrett, a practicing hypnotherapist who teaches at Harvard Medical School, presents seven case studies from her 20-year practice that ""unfolded in my office like plays"" in which patients, by way of suggestion, strove to break old patterns and develop new strategies for being. They include a man who imagines he is pregnant by a deceased male partner; a young woman who watches a film about Joan of Arc and then ""becomes"" the martyred maid of Orleans; a mother with multiple-personality disorder; and a young man whose dreams of alien abduction turn out to be something other than space travel. Barrett begins with a brief history of hypnosis and concludes with a summary of her views and advice for those considering such therapy, making measured claims free of moral judgment. Her willingness to discuss her own failings and the limitations of hypnotherapy strengthen the reader's confidence in her objectivity and enrich these thoughtful plumbings of the human psyche. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/29/1998
Release date: 07/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
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