5/31/2019

Oh the humanity: “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb



One of the perks of having my own office is being able to close my door and cry when I'm listening to a very emotional audiobook.

This book destroyed me. When I heard about it, it sounded like the spiritual successor to the excellent Love's Executioner by Irvin Yalom. I was psyched to read another therapist memoir. Margaret Atwood said, "We all have unlived lives." I was a psychology major for two seconds (I changed it before my first day of college), and when I was in career transition, I thought of going back to school to become a counselor (then I decided I'm better off continuing to write fictional therapists and give real ones my HSA dollars).

What makes this particular therapist memoir interesting is that it's not just about a therapist and her clients. It's about a therapist and her therapist. After the man she thought she'd marry dumps her because he decided he didn't want to be tied down to raising her young son, therapist and writer Lori Gottlieb decides to seek some support. But in the grand tradition of Seeing A Therapist, Gottlieb learns to dig deeper than what she thinks is her only problem.

As Gottlieb's therapist helps her unravel her BS, she tells us about her winding path to her career, her journey to single motherhood, her relationship, and her clients.

The stories of her clients' therapy journeys were my favorite part of the book. Gottlieb captured the beautiful, hideous, complicated humanity of her clients. The arrogant TV writer who can't stop looking at his phone. The hot mess who drinks too much and flirts with the guy in the therapy waiting room. The newlywed fighting cancer. The lonely older woman contemplating suicide. Gottlieb brings empathy and compassion to their stories. She doesn't shy away from the messiness of it all. Or the fact that personal development can sometimes be a comedy of errors.

The sentimentality doesn't feel exploitative or maudlin. And while there's plenty of joy and progress for some of the clients, Gottlieb doesn't pretend all their problems are magically fixed forever because of their work.

I was so filled with love reading this. It made me want to dig deeper in my own life and look for meaning and purpose, and it made me feel more connected to the people around me.

Read this if you want to feel delighted and inspired. Just make sure you've got a box of tissues.

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