THE MAN WITH THE BEAUTIFUL VOICE: And More Stories from the Other Side of the Couch

Lillian B. Rubin, Author . Beacon $24 (176p) ISBN 978-0-8070-2926-8

For her latest title, Rubin, a psychotherapist, takes a page from Oliver Sacks with this absorbing chronicle of seven of her most challenging cases. These "stories from the other side of the couch" attempt to explain to the lay reader what therapists mean when they refer to the "reciprocal dance" of treatment, in which patients "expect more than they should and we promise more than we can deliver." The patient of the title is a handicapped former Thalidomide baby whose deep rage over his malformed legs borders on the sociopathic. Rubin brings the reader into her office and her head as, year after year, she methodically coaxes the embittered man toward self-acceptance. Such success is elusive, however, and for every therapeutic triumph there are also patients who can't endure the self-scrutiny and simply give up. Rubin claims to be forever haunted by the suicide of one young graduate student whose treatment for profound depression seemed to be progressing with promise. Watching others lay themselves completely bare day after day takes an emotional toll on the therapist as well, and Rubin is completely honest about her own doubts and feelings of inadequacy as she gently attempts to build a trusting relationship with her patients. Hers is a humanistic, often unorthodox, approach, and she takes great pains to treat the fragile people who seek her out as equals. Therapists are generally trained to keep a detached, strictly clinical manner in the office; any physical contact is frowned upon. But it's a rule Rubin defiantly flouts: she's quick with a hug or a squeeze of the hand if she thinks the situation calls for it. In her writing, Rubin employs an efficient and deliberate—though not dry—narrative style peppered with keen insight and good humor. Each of these seven case studies stands alone as a unique, self-contained story that will have the reader rooting for what Rubin calls the "aha" moment, the "beginning of knowing" that marks a breakthrough in psychotherapy. (Apr. 3)

Reviewed on: 03/24/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
Paperback - 162 pages - 978-0-7499-4193-2
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