“One day, Gottlieb is a perfectly happy psychotherapist in Los Angeles, the mother of a young son, madly in love with the man who wants to marry her. Who suddenly breaks things off because — out of nowhere — he has decided he doesn’t want to spend the next 10 years with a child under his roof. (Specifically, he doesn’t want to have to pay attention to her son’s Lego creations. What a jerk.) And, voilà, Gottlieb has what’s known in the trade as her “presenting problem,” the issue that gets you into therapy in the first place, but which is really just the touchstone for what are probably many more deeply embedded issues.
Therapy, she writes, “elicits odd reactions because, in a way, it’s like pornography. Both involve a kind of nudity. Both have the potential to thrill. And both have millions of users, most of whom keep their use private.” Her book does feel deeply, almost creepily, voyeuristic.
Gottlieb explores her patients’ inner demons — a young newlywed diagnosed with terminal cancer, an older woman who finds life meaningless and intends to commit suicide on her next birthday, a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a woman stuck in a cycle of alcoholism and damaging relationships — and simultaneously peers into her own psyche with Wendell, a middle-aged, cardigan-sporting psychotherapist.”- NY times